WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, Sen. John Thune and Rep. Fred Upton released a discussion draft of legislation that would authorize the FCC to enforce net neutrality principles. The bill builds on legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House in 2006 with support from nearly all Republicans and most Democrats, but also specifically addresses the four objectives set forth by President Obama in November.

“This bill addresses the long-standing concerns raised by both sides,” said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. “Democrats have insisted the FCC needs clear authority to require transparency, ban paid prioritization, and prohibit blocking or throttling of lawful content and services. The bill gives Democrats what they want while also allaying Republican concerns about the unintended consequences of regulation. Voice, video, gaming, telemedicine and other services need special treatment to work. This bill ensures that such services will work for users, if they choose them, while addressing hypothetical concerns that broadband providers might play favorites or squelch speech they don’t like.”

“Passage of this bill would finally put net neutrality on a sound legal footing,” continued Szoka. “After ten years of fighting and two losses by the FCC, does anyone really want to see the FCC get mired in court yet again? Giving the FCC clear but narrow authority would remove any need for the FCC to invoke Title II. And the sooner Congress clarifies that it did not intend Section 706 as a blank check to regulate the Internet, the better. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before the FCC invokes 706 to regulate cybersecurity, privacy, or who knows what else?”

“President Obama has completely failed to lead on this issue,” concluded Szoka. “If he continues to insist that legislation ‘isn’t needed’, he’ll go down in history as the President who let a solution slip through his hands. It’s time for him to stop demagoguing this issue and instead work with Congress to craft a legislative solution. The ink could be dry on legislation before the first lawsuit is even filed on the FCC’s planned rules. Since he doesn’t seem to mind meddling in the decision-making of supposedly independent agencies, he should ask his FCC Chairman to delay any vote on new rules, at least until it’s clear whether Congress will finally legislate.”

Szoka can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org, and see more of our work on net neutrality and Title II, including: