House Judiciary to hold hearing on net neutrality, antitrust issues

House Judiciary to hold hearing on net neutrality, antitrust issues
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The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on net neutrality and the role of antitrust for Nov. 1.

The Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, which will hold the hearing, has not released details, but the event is likely to address concerns that internet service providers stifle competition.

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Democratic senators like Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (Mass.) say consumers often have limited or no options when picking their broadband providers, a claim corroborated by research.

The hearing also comes as Republicans in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put their finishing touches on a plan to scrap net neutrality. The agency has not released a timeline for when it will release and vote on the final version of Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to roll back the rules, but telecommunication insiders speculate that a vote could come as soon as December.

In his plan, “Restoring Internet Freedom,” Pai proposes scrapping net neutrality rules like a ban on paid prioritization of certain types of content, and rules keeping internet service providers from slowing down content at their discretion.

Many Republicans in Congress are calling for legislative action to enshrine regulations of internet service providers in law so that rules don’t flip every time the FCC changes party hands. The agency is currently run by a Republican majority, but the original net neutrality rules were approved in 2015 by Obama-appointed Chairman Tom Wheeler and his Democratic majority.

Democrats in Congress have been reluctant to compromise on Republican legislative proposals for net neutrality. They say that Republicans have not proposed a sufficient alternative to Title II provisions that regulate internet service companies as “common carriers” the same way that projects for the public good like phones or railroads are regulated.