It's not over: What just happened with net neutrality?

Daniel Fowler
May 17, 2018

The US Senate has voted in favor of net neutrality by approving a Congressional Review Act resolution that would undo the Federal Communications Commission's December decision to dismantle the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

"Democrats have made a decision to take the issue of net neutrality and make it partisan", Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota said.

Opponents contend that without the net neutrality regulations, which require Internet Service Providers to treat all web traffic equally, companies such as Verizon and Comcast will be free to discriminate against certain content or boost their partner websites.

The repeal is scheduled to take effect June 11.

Net neutrality advocates rally February 27 at the Capitol. Maria Cantwell and Sen.

The resolution faces an uphill struggle in the Republican majority House and it would also need a signature from President Trump, who supports the repeal.

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Senators voted 52-47 to overturn the Restoring Internet Freedom Order issued by the FCC previous year. The potential full support of all Democrats would still see the need for 22 Republicans to agree in order for this to happen, which many United States analysts view as a tall order. A consortium of tech companies from Etsy to IAC, which operates Tinder and OKCupid, have banded together to create a campaign called "Red Alert", which supports the congressional vote and other efforts to preserve net neutrality.

Telecoms lawyer at Perkins Coie in Washington told The Washington Post that the vote could have "significant political effects", but warned that it is still not clear how many voters will be motivated enough by net neutrality to show up at the polls. "Our approach will help promote digital opportunity-that is, making high-speed Internet access available to every single American so that they can be participants in, rather than spectators of, our digital economy", he concluded.

Republicans argued that net neutrality just added unnecessary regulations to the marketplace. However, the Republican-led House of Representatives is unlikely to take up the measure. Critics, including the Trump administration, believed this ruling was stifling innovation.

"This is our chance, our best chance to make sure the internet stays accessible and affordable to all Americans", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from NY. The Internet was free and open before 2015, when the prior FCC buckled to political pressure from the White House and imposed utility-style regulation on the Internet. If an internet service provider which is owned by a conglomerate decides to absorb an exchange then without net neutrality they can charge users extra and or toggle down speeds to access exchanges in competition with their own.

A major objection about the Net neutrality rules was the FCC's decision to classify broadband as a more highly regulated utilitylike service under Title 2 of federal telecommunications law. Such bills allow Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber and the president's signature, to overturn recent agency moves.

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