Preserve the Internet Standards for Network Neutrality

Legislative Proposal:
The Internet Platform for Innovation Act

  This Act may be cited as the "Internet Platform for Innovation Act".
The Congress finds the following:
(1) The Internet is the most successful means of communication ever developed, connecting people of all walks of life across the globe and enabling unprecedented flexibility in applications and unfettered exchange of information and ideas.
(2) The success of the Internet is built on the establishment of certain commonly observed principles of practice, expressed in "Internet protocols," governing the manner in which transmissions are exchanged. Interoperation among competing Internet providers on the basis of these principles assures that the Internet remains a generic, flexible platform that supports innovation and free expression.
(3) This flexible platform, commonly referred to as the "IP layer" of the Internet, enables users to independently develop innovative applications by devising rules and conventions describing how information transmitted between connected users will be interpreted in order to serve diverse purposes. The vast collection of applications that have been freely created in this manner is commonly referred to as the "application layer" of the Internet.
(4) The Internet protocols that created this architecture have been developed and maintained by globally recognized standards bodies through participatory processes that work to develop optimal engineering designs and establish the consensus necessary for interoperability.
(5) Among the commonly-observed principles of practice that govern Internet transmissions are the following:
a) Transmissions are broken down into small pieces referred to as "packets," comprised of small portions of the overall information useful to the users at each transmission's endpoints. A small set of data is prefixed to these packets, describing the source and destination of each packet and how it is to be treated.
b) Internet routers transmit these packets to various other routers, changing routers freely as a means of managing network flow.
c) Internet routers transmit packets independently of each other and independently of the applications that the packets are supporting.
(6) These principles governing the IP layer establish a technical behavior that not only assures the platform's flexibility, but also assures its reliability, availability, universal accessibility, and uniform treatment of information flow. The IP layer assures that all applications may compete on a level basis of connectivity, be they commercially developed by a major corporation and made available to millions, or non-commercial applications developed by individuals and offered at no charge.
(7) These principles of practice are commonly understood and recognized as features of existing, commonly-observed communications standards defining the behavior of the Internet transport.
(8) This settled understanding of the Internet, based on an architecture created by well-recognized standards bodies, leading to user expectations about the accessibility and behavior of the Internet, is what "the Internet" has come to mean to users in the United States and around the world.
(9) Network providers who analyze and interpret the types of applications being conveyed within packets at the IP layer in order to offer special service features (including but not limited to prioritized delivery) intrinsically favor particular application designs that they recognize over competing ones. This practice therefore works at odds with the flexibility and other desirable features of the IP layer brought about by the above-described principles of practice. They depend, for their success, on the neutral platform afforded at the IP layer, even as they upset the neutrality of the IP layer to benefit services best offered at the application layer.
(10) Network providers who offer special treatment for specific types of applications by identifying the applications being conveyed by packets, presently face competition from providers who provide neutral networks by means of the above principles, as well as from the diversity of applications, flexibility, uniform treatment of information flow, availability and access made possible by these networks.
(11) If network providers in the United States were given support in legislation for presenting as "Internet" services that diverge from the above global principles of practice, as they offer special treatment of packet transmissions on the basis of identifying particular types of applications, the result would be to:
a) supplant and undermine the consensus authority currently accorded to existing international protocols and standards-making processes;
b) impair innovation and competition by undermining the flexibility and other desirable features afforded by the technical behavior of the Internet transport as described above;
c) deny consumers the expectation of quality and breadth of service globally associated with the Internet; and
d) suppress freedom of speech within the United States, while the people of other nations continue to enjoy unabridged Internet communications.
(12) It is in the national interest to:
a) support the international consensus authority that gave rise to the current IP layer and associated protocols;
b) encourage innovation in the applications layer of the Internet through the flexibility, reliability, availability, and accessibility afforded by the commonly established principles of practice expressed in existing consensus standards for the IP layer; and
c) assure consumers in the United States that the globally accessible and open architecture of the Internet will be preserved even as some Internet access providers may choose to compete in offering additional features to their customers.
(1) Definitions.- As used in this Section:
(A) Internet.- The term "Internet" means the worldwide, publicly accessible system of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP), some characteristics of which include:
i) Transmissions between users who hold globally reachable addresses, and which transmissions are broken down into smaller segments referred to as "packets" comprised of a small portion of information useful to the users at each transmission's endpoints, and a small set of prefixed data describing the source and destination of each transmission and how the packet is to be treated;
ii) routers that transmit these packets to various other routers on a best efforts basis, changing routers freely as a means of managing network flow; and
iii) said routers transmit packets independently of each other and independently of the particular application in use, in accordance with globally defined protocol requirements and recommendations.
(B) Internet access.- The term "Internet access" means a service that enables users to transmit and receive transmissions of data using the Internet protocol in a manner that is agnostic to the nature, source or destination of the transmission of any packet. Such IP transmissions may include information, text, sounds, images and other content such as messaging and electronic mail.
(2) Any person engaged in interstate commerce that charges a fee for the provision of Internet access must in fact provide access to the Internet in accord with the above definition, regardless whether additional proprietary content, information or other services are also provided as part of a package of services offered to consumers.
(3) Network providers that offer special features based on analyzing and identifying particular applications being conveyed by packet transmissions must not describe these services as "Internet" services. Any representation as to the speed or "bandwidth" of the Internet access shall be limited to the speed or bandwidth allocated to Internet access.
(4) Unfair or Deceptive Act or Practice- A violation of paragraphs 2 or 3 shall be treated as a violation of a rule defining an unfair or deceptive act or practice proscribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)). The Federal Trade Commission shall enforce this Act in the same manner, by the same means, and with the same jurisdiction as though all applicable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act were incorporated into and made a part of this Act.


Seth Johnson
(212) 543-4266