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Politics

GOP senator proposes net neutrality fix, but critics cry foul

Republican Sen. John Kennedy from Louisiana introduces a bill that would make net neutrality the law of the land, but activists say its protections are too weak.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana

Net neutrality supporters hoped Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana would be the deciding vote on a bill to roll back the FCC's repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules. Instead he introduced his own legislation to make net neutrality the law of the land.  

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

A Republican US senator, who was being targeted as a possible tie-breaking vote to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality, has introduced his own bill to save the internet.

On Wednesday, Sen. John Kennedy from Louisiana introduced a piece of legislation that would ban companies like AT&T and Comcast from slowing down or blocking access to websites or internet services. But the bill wouldn't prevent these broadband and wireless companies from offering paid prioritization, which many critics fear could lead to so-called internet "fast lanes."  The bill is a companion to legislation already proposed in the House by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee.

Democrats in the Senate have been pushing to use the Congressional Review Act to roll back the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules. They've gotten the support of 50 senators for the measure, including one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine. Kennedy, who's been undecided in his support of the CRA bill, was being courted by Democrats as the tie-breaking vote to pass the measure in the Senate.

Net Neutrality activists, who've vowed to protect the Obama-era net neutrality rules, are outraged by Kennedy's approach. They say the bill doesn't go far enough to protect net neutrality. And they fear that if a bill is passed with weaker standards, it'll be impossible to provide the same kind of protection provided by the rules passed in 2105.

"Louisiana residents, small businesses, and Internet users from across the political spectrum asked Sen. Kennedy to be a hero," the grassroots group Fight the Future said in a statement. "Instead, he stabbed them in the back."

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