A proposal forbidding internet service providers from turning the data-cap meter off to grant a so-called internet fast lane to preferential online services was introduced Thursday in the Senate.
The bill by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) comes a week after a report found that the institutionalization of data caps by ISPs is geared toward profiteering rather than the stated goal of managing traffic congestion.
“A covered internet service provider may not, for purposes of measuring data usage or otherwise, provide preferential treatment of data that is based on the source or the content of the data,” (.pdf) Wyden’s bill reads.
Ars Technica noted that Comcast had not counted its Xbox video-streaming app against its data caps. Comcast, however, no longer enforces its data caps.
“Data caps create challenges for consumers and run the risk of undermining innovation in the digital economy if they are imposed bluntly and not designed to truly manage network congestion,” Wyden said in a statement.
Among other things, the proposal demands a standardized method for measuring data and also questions data caps altogether. That’s because it grants the Federal Communications Commission with regulatory power over data-cap pricing.
“The commission shall evaluate a data cap proposed by an internet service provider to determine whether the data cap functions to reasonably limit network congestion in a manner that does not unnecessarily discourage use of the internet,” according to the proposal.
That means internet companies might have to explain why the caps are imposed at low-traffic times, such as in the middle of the night.
The proposal was immediately applauded by the digital rights group Public Knowledge.