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JUNEAU – Senate Democrats introduced measures Wednesday to restore net neutrality. Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) introduced SJR 12, urging Congress to exercise its authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to end net neutrality. Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) introduced Senate Bill 160, requiring net neutrality for Alaska’s internet service providers.
On December 14, 2017, by a vote of 3-2, the FCC dismantled the regulations that prohibited internet service providers from charging different rates for certain content or from slowing down or blocking websites.
“The protections net neutrality provided Americans were simply extinguished,” said Sen. Wielechowski. “With their vote, the FCC is knowingly allowing internet service providers to charge customers higher rates to access certain websites, download music, watch videos, or to slow down or block sites altogether. This decision will negatively impact individual consumers, small businesses, startup companies, and entrepreneurs that rely upon a free and open internet.”
During the public process, the FCC received 22 million comments. Of those, up to two million were linked to stolen identities; half a million appear to have been generated from Russian email addresses; 94% were posted multiple times; 57% came from duplicate or temporary addresses; there were nine instances that 75,000 same or similar comments posted at the exact same second; and the top seven comments made up 38% of the submissions.
SJR 12 calls on Congress to enact a joint resolution of disapproval within 60 legislative days of the FCC’s final decision. A simple majority vote of each house in Congress would reinstate net neutrality.
Under SB 160, internet service providers may not block content or services, impair or degrade lawful internet traffic, or interfere with the end user’s access to the internet. It would allow preferential bandwidth speeds for distance learning and telemedicine to ensure rural Alaskans have access to necessary services.
“If Congress won’t protect the consumers of Alaska, we in the legislature must,” said Sen. Begich. “Access to information is vital to Alaskans and shouldn’t be endangered, especially in rural areas of the state.”
Six states have introduced legislation to restore net neutrality, and 21 states have filed legal action to block the FCC’s decision.
Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) has introduced similar legislation in the House.