Rep. Markey offers net-neutrality bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Legislation designed to prevent broadband Internet providers from unreasonable interference with subscribers’ access to content was introduced on Wednesday by a senior U.S. lawmaker.

The bill offered yesterday by U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is the latest to raise concerns about “net neutrality,” an issue that pits open-Internet advocates against some service providers such as Comcast Corp, who say they need to take reasonable steps to manage traffic on their networks.

Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said his bill was aimed at preserving the “open architecture” of the Internet and preventing content providers from being subjected to “unreasonably discriminatory practices by broadband network providers.”

“Our goal is to ensure that the next generation of Internet innovators will have the same opportunity, the same unfettered access to Internet content, services and applications that fostered the developers of Yahoo, Netscape and Google,” Markey said in a statement.

The bill also would require regulators at the Federal Communications Commission to study the issue and hold public hearings.

Markey dismissed fears that his initiative was an attempt to “regulate” the Internet. “The bill contains no requirements for regulations on the Internet whatsoever,” he said in another statement.

The net neutrality issue has been spotlighted by a series of incidents in which network operators were accused of hindering certain online data moving over their networks, such as file-sharing or text-messaging.

In the most recent example, the FCC has been looking into complaints by consumer groups that Comcast favors or blocks certain types of content.

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