New Bill To Ban Paid Internet Fast Lanes


This morning, Rep. Matsui and Sen. Leahy introduced a bill that would direct the FCC to ban paid prioritization deals on what’s known as “the last mile" - the final distance web content travels to reach a consumer. The draft “Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act” would ban preferential treatment on the Internet, upholding the principle of net neutrality.

Paid prioritization deals, as we have already argued, are inherently anti-competitive and violate the principles of a truly free Internet ecosystem. So this bill should be applauded for promoting the interests of startups, content creators, and Internet users; we support this effort and hope it sends the FCC a strong message that paid fast lanes should not become a new Internet standard. They should instead be banned.

"A free and open Internet is essential for consumers," said Matsui. "Our country cannot afford ‘pay-for-play’ schemes that divide our Internet into tiers based on who has the deepest pockets."

But, it's worth noting here that there is no way to achieve these aims without first reclassifying broadband Internet under Title II.

This year’s Verizon v FCC decision makes relying on section 706 legally impossible. In that case, the DC circuit court actually went so far as to say that under Section 706 the FCC would have to permit exclusive access arrangements, e.g., paid prioritization, among edge providers and ISPs, and that it could even charge similarly situated edge providers very different prices for the same level of access.

Only under Title II can the FCC can eliminate certain classes of fees and discrimination, including banning paid prioritization (or “fast lanes”) on the Internet altogether. We applaud Rep. Matsui’s and Sen. Leahy’s efforts to ensure an open Internet, and we hope the FCC follows suit.