The Hill: Senate panel approves net neutrality exemption bill for small providers

The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a bill to exempt small internet service providers from rules included in sweeping net neutrality regulations approved last year.

The legislation would exempt providers with 250,000 or fewer subscribers from transparency rules that are part of the regulations, which were approved by the Federal Communications Commission last February

A version of the law passed the House without objection in March.

More broadly, the rules are meant to protect net neutrality — the idea that all traffic on the web should be treated in the same way. The agency banned internet providers from blocking or slowing certain content or providing better speeds to services that paid them. The legislation approved Wednesday doesn’t exempt small providers from those rules, but rather transparency measures elsewhere in the regulations.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that the rules were legal, rebuffing a challenge from internet providers and their representatives in Washington. They are expected to appeal.

But that ruling didn’t have immediate bearing on the debate on Wednesday.

“The administration does not oppose this exemption, the Small Business Administration supports this exemption, and most importantly, the small businesses that we represent support this exemption so they can focus on their businesses, their customers, rather than burdensome regulatory requirements,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who co-sponsored the bill.