Senate Democrats push to reinstate 'net neutrality' rules

17 May, 2018, 15:08 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • Senator Hassan speaks with Stonyfield employees about the negative impact that repealing net neutrality would have on rural businesses

Senate Democrats and three Republicans - Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins of ME, and John Kennedy of Louisiana - voted in favor of using the Congressional Review Act to reinstate "net neutrality". John Thune, R-S.D., said the Senate's vote later Wednesday on a measure reversing the Federal Communications Commission's decision that scrapped the "net neutrality" rule amounted to "political theater" with no prospects of approval by the GOP-controlled House.

Polls also have showed strong public backing for net neutrality.

The 2015 rules were meant to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to Web content and bar broadband service providers from favoring their own material or others'. It has drawn far less support in the House of Representatives, and Trump is unlikely to sign a resolution that would effectively rebuke his FCC chairman.

By any legitimate measure, the Obama Administration's legal approach to Net Neutrality was an unmitigated disaster.

"It's time for Speaker Ryan to do his job and let us vote in the House", Welch said.

Independent of the Senate action today, several states including Washington, Oregon, California and NY, have either proposed net neutrality-like legislation or sought to take legal action to nullify the FCC repeal.

If consumers would prefer better access to other online services, they theoretically could find another internet provider.

But backers of the effort, who've led a months-long campaign to save net neutrality, have argued ditching those rules gives large internet service providers too much leverage to squeeze smaller startups or provide fast track preferential treatment to favored websites, apps and streaming services.

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Supporters of net neutrality regulations said they hoped the stronger-than-expected Senate vote would provide momentum as the fight to retain the existing regulations moves to the House.

Earlier this year, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into the FCC's public comment page on net neutrality being stacked with pro-repeal comments made under stolen identities, some from people who were deceased.

Both Thune and Schumer alluded to the fact that net neutrality is popular with voters, with Thune painting the vote as an "attempt to gain partisan advantage" because "people seem to think will be useful in the upcoming election".

Senators passed a resolution Wednesday to keep the Obama-era internet protections with a 52-47 vote.

Despite the unlikelihood of this actually re-enacting net neutrality rules, Democrats will hail it as a victory. "Obama's internet overreach did not make the internet what it is today, American innovation did", said Cassidy.

"Every day somebody up here says that there's going to be a new issue that's going to be dispositive of how things will turn out in the midterms", the Louisiana senator said.

Senate Democrats used the powers granted to the legislative branch under the Congressional Review Act to potentially overturn regulations created by federal agencies, like the FCC's decision to end requirements for net neutrality. It applies only to the telecom carriers that provide our Internet connections, not to the companies like Facebook that provide services over that connection.

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