Technology

Senate Republican: We need bipartisan net neutrality legislation

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is calling for bipartisan legislation on the net neutrality Day of Action.

Thune in a Recode oped critiqued the uncertainty of relying on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), whose leadership can change every time the party in the White House does, to regulate the internet. Instead, Thune suggests that lawmakers should pass legislation to solidify net neutrality regulations.

The South Dakota senator's call to action comes as major internet companies, like Facebook, Amazon and Google, alongside smaller firms and advocacy groups try to raise awareness to stop FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's (R) plan to hinder net neutrality provisions.

"On this day of action, let's not settle for slogans, and instead demand a resolution that finds agreement and concludes this debate," Thune writes. "What the internet needs to end regulatory uncertainty and recurring threats of litigation is an enduring, bipartisan law from Congress to protect internet freedom by codifying widely accepted net neutrality protections."

The Senate Commerce Committee chairman said he knows that that is easier said than done.

The two parties are stuck on the Title II provision within former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's Open Internet Order of 2015, which gives the agency the authority to regulate broadband providers.

Democrats say that they either want legislation to include the Title II provision or something that would have the same effect. Republicans say that this onerous and that broadband companies should be regulated more like other companies, instead of phone service providers or railroad firms, and be under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission instead.

Republicans need some Democrats to sign on to get the votes they need for such legislation, but Thune has admitted he knows that this isn't a possibility right now. Senate Democrats like Schatz, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) among others have dug their feet in on net neutrality.

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