Preston Gralla

Why net neutrality will become law

January 10, 2007 9:33 AM EST

What a difference a year makes. Last year, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Congress would ban net neutrality forever. But now just the opposite is true --- the first net neutrality bill of the new Congress has just been proposed, and it has a very good chance of passing.


The bill, proposed by Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and North Dakota Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan, is pretty much identical to a bill they introduced last year. It would ban ISPs, telcos, and cable providers from essentially extorting cash from big web sites in exchange for providing them adequate bandwidth. And it would outlaw the blocking of any legal application or services as well.

Called the "Internet Freedom Preservation Act," the bill says ISP are not allowed to "block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade the ability of any person to use a broadband service to access, use, send, post, receive or offer any lawful content, application or service made available via the Internet."

You can read the full text of the bill here.

The bill has some pretty heavy hitters behind it, including presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Over on the House side, Massachusetts' Democrat Edward Markey, one of net neutrality's long-time backers, will propose a similar bill.

Expect pretty much all Democrats to line up in favor of the bill. And some Republicans, not just Snowe, will sign on as well. They'll favor it because the financial services industry lined up in favor of the bill last year, when it realized that ISPs could charge them big-time money if they want adequate bandwidth for their Web sites. Financial services folks love giving money to Republicans. And so some Republicans will end up favoring net neutrality. And that will be enough to force it into law.