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Restoring Net Neutrality Protections: An Analysis of H.R. 1096 vs. H.R. 1644

The following is the executive summary of an analysis I wrote looking at two bills in the House, both of which purport to restore the net neutrality protections in the 2015 Open Internet Order. Only one actually does so. The full six-page analysis can be downloaded here. (.pdf)

This week, the House will vote on H.R. 1644, introduced by Rep. Mike Doyle, which would reinstate the net neutrality protections of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order as of January 19, 2017. H.R. 1096, a competing measure introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, purports to restore the Open Internet Order’s rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, as well as the transparency rule.

Both bills have been touted as means to restore comprehensive net neutrality protections for all Americans.
A comparison of the bills’ protections shows that only H.R. 1644 would achieve that goal.
 
H.R. 1644 restores all of the 2015 net neutrality rules, as well as the important protections and clarifications that were codified in the text of the 2015 Open Internet Order which explained the rules and closed known loopholes.
 
H.R. 1096 does not include all of the 2015 net neutrality rules or any of the protections included in the text of the 2015 Open Internet Order.
 
As a result, H.R. 1096 creates significant loopholes and drastically reduces the level of protection compared to the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality protections that the bill is designed to replace. That leaves Americans unprotected against known net neutrality violations.
 
H.R. 1096 misses key net neutrality protections. For example:

  • H.R. 1096 allows Internet service providers (ISPs) – the phone and cable companies that connect us to the Internet – to use zero-rating to advantage themselves and distort competition. H.R. 1644 closes this loophole.
  • H.R. 1096 allows ISPs to circumvent the bill’s net neutrality protections at the point where data enters their networks, just as they did from 2013 to 2015. H.R. 1644 prohibits them from doing so.
The net neutrality protections H.R. 1096 does include are incomplete. For example:

  • H.R. 1096 appears to allow ISPs to charge websites fees for access to the ISPs’ subscribers and block those that don’t pay. H.R. 1644 prohibits these fees.
  • H.R. 1096 fails to adequately address throttling by appearing to allow ISPs to speed up websites and throttle classes of applications. H.R. 1644 prohibits ISPs from doing so.
Additionally, H.R. 1096 does not address the factors that really hinder broadband deployment. H.R. 1644 restores the FCC’s ability to support deployment, particularly in rural areas.

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