DeMint Bill Would Create Hurdles For Net Neutrality Regs

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Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-SC) is working on a bill that would make it much more difficult for the Federal Communications Commission to expand and codify its network neutrality guidelines. It also would rein in the agency's authority over competition policy in the process by establishing a "competition analysis-based regulatory framework."

A source confirms the bill's language is being worked on, but is not final.

According to possible language being floated Tuesday, the Freedom for Consumer Choice [FCC] Act would prevent the commission from issuing any rules on unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices unless it had determined first, via a rulemaking, that the marketplace was not sufficient to protect consumers; that the act or practice causes or is likely to cause substantial injury; that consumers can't avoid that consequence themselves; and that the injury is not outweighed by "countervailing benefits to consumers or competition.

There would be a five-year sunset on any regulations that did pass that test, unless the FCC could affirmatively rejustify them.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for one, is all for it. "The bill correctly recognizes that without evidence of a market

failure and consumer harm, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) current push to regulate the Internet is not justified and would jeopardize the tremendous investment, innovation, consumer choice, and job creation evidenced in today's broadband marketplace."

DeMint was co-sponsor of a legislative attempt last fall to block funding for any new network neutrality rules.

The FCC has proposed network neutrality rules, but its authority to do so was called into question by a federal court's

ruling it had not justified its authority for sanctioning of Comcast for blocking BitTorrent peer-to-peer uploads.