“For the past decade, a debate has raged in Washington and across the country about the best way to protect an open, unfettered Internet. The increasing use of smartphones and web-connected products and services make finding the right answer more important than ever,” Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, write in a Reuters opinion article. “The House of Representatives and the Senate, working together, have come up with a working proposal. We plan to begin a public discussion of it this week.”

“We need unambiguous rules of the road that protect Internet users and can help spur job creation and economic growth. The rules we propose would prohibit blocking and throttling (the selective slowing of data), and also ensure that Internet service providers could not charge a premium to prioritize content delivery,” Thune and Upton write. “The Federal Communications Commission has limited ability to establish the kind of legally sound, pro-innovation rules that consumers and developers need. One ill-fitting tool available is Title II of the Communications Act — a set of rules conceived in the Franklin D. Roosevelt era for public utilities. Policymakers, however, need updated tools written for the Internet age.”

“Using Title II could result in billions of dollars in higher government fees and taxes on consumers’ monthly broadband bills, according to a Progressive Policy Institute report. It also could extend new regulations to areas like mobile broadband without recognizing the unique challenges that mobile carriers face,” Thune and Upton write. “One near-certainty is that this approach will perpetuate years of litigation and even more uncertainty for consumers and job creators.

“Seeking a better way forward, we are working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to establish clear, updated and reasonable rules of the digital road to protect an open Internet,” Thune and Upton write. “We have made this an early priority of this Congress, demonstrating we can come together on a bipartisan basis to protect the vitality of the Internet — now so indispensable to our economy and way of life. Enduring, long-term protections for our digital freedoms are something we should all support.”

Full article here.