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CEO DATELINE – Net neutrality bill receives association praise, condemnation

April 10, 2019
By Walt Williams

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The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that would restore “net neutrality” principles to internet services first adopted during the Obama administration, but the issue is one that divides trade groups.

The Democrat-backed Save the Internet Act was approved by a 232-190 vote, according to news reports. The proposed law would make it illegal for internet service providers to block access to certain websites and services or slow down internet speeds to those services.

The Federal Communications Commission adopted similar measures under President Barack Obama but under Chairman Ajit Pai—who was appointed by President Donald Trump—commissioners reversed the earlier decision. Pai released a statement after the vote calling the bill “a big-government solution in search of a problem.”

ACA Connects, formerly the American Cable Association, echoed Pai’s sentiment in its own statement reacting to the vote. CEO Matthew Polka said the bill would impose “onerous and outdated regulations.”

“This added regulation would not make the Internet more open,” Polka said. “It would only retard investment in higher performance broadband networks.”

While ISP groups oppose attempts to impose net neutrality, associations that represent internet-based businesses generally support of such regulations. The Computer & Communications Industry Association applauded the House vote, saying it would restore much-needed protections.

“The U.S. digital economy is the envy of the world and ‘net neutrality’ nondiscrimination rules have helped startups compete with bigger players,” CCIA CEO Ed Black said in a statement. “Restoring these rules helps thousands of smaller businesses, as well as the next generation of startups, offer their products and services without fear of arbitrary and unnecessary charges from the big ISPs.”

While the Save the Internet Act easily passed the House, its prospects are less certain in the Republican-controlled Senate, with most GOP lawmakers opposed to the Obama-era rules.

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