The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) issued a media release applauding U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman for introducing the 21st Century Internet Act in Congress.
Coffman’s bill is a response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2017 decision to dismantle net neutrality regulations. If it becomes law, the legislation would ensure that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot block or throttle online content or services.
In November 2017, the FCC, under chairman Ajit Pai, released a plan to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, which clears the way for internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and curb access to some websites. Realtors oppose any rules proposed by the FCC to create a two-tiered internet. By doing so, it would allow ISPs to charge companies a premium to boost website download speeds.
NAR says that virtual net neutral practices are essential to ensure that real estate content is freely and efficiently distributed online, particularly as the marketing of real estate, which increasingly includes streaming video and other services. Without net neutrality rules in place, a mega-real estate ad company could pay for fast download speeds that a smaller broker might not be able to afford. As a result, the loss of net neutrality could give sites like Zillow and Realtor.com a competitive advantage.
The new legislation secures into law the “four corners of net neutrality,” focusing on providing consumer protection for those accessing and doing business online. The bill also requires ISPs to publicly disclose management practices, prohibits ISPs from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts, and ensures that both broadband equipment and services are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
However, the move would need Congress to approve it and President Trump to sign it before it becomes law.
“Nearly all of America’s 1.3 million Realtors depend on open access to affordable, high-quality internet service to adequately serve clients, market properties and conduct business,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Rep. Mike Coffman’s 21st Century Internet Act is a much-needed response to the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality regulations and preserve equal, unencumbered internet access for small businesses and consumers across the country.
“NAR applauds the Congressman for his work on this legislation and pledges to continue working with Congress and the FCC to protect our members’ ability to freely share lawful content on the internet.”
© 2018 Florida Realtors®