ibusinesslines.com October 23, 2018

Senate votes to save net neutrality rules

16 May 2018, 11:07 | Jodi Jackson

Senate votes to save net neutrality rules

Effort to reinstate net neutrality

The repeal goes into effect on June 11.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says all 49 Democratic caucus members will vote for the measure, along with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for S.J. Res. 52, a so-called resolution of disapproval making use of procedures laid out under the 1996 Congressional Review Act to roll back rules the FCC approved in December to repeal regulations put in place under then-chairman Tom Wheeler (D). Tune in to the Senate webcast to find out; the vote should happen around 3PM Eastern but as always in government timing is only approximate.

Republican senators were hoping to avoid the vote, but Democrats are using a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to force the full Senate to vote. Passage in the Senate would "send a clear message to American families that we support them, not the special interest agenda of President Trump and his broadband baron allies", said Sen. The resolution needs only a simple majority of Senators present to pass. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who sponsored the CRA resolution.

As for the possibility of the CRA reaching Trump's desk, Markey said last week during a press conference that the "political firestorm" that would be created by killing an effort to save net neutrality could push the president into signing it.

Those regulations, formally known as net neutrality rules, prohibit broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon from interfering with users' internet traffic or prioritizing some traffic over others.

"But instead of moving forward with that approach with Republicans to draft such legislation, the Democratic leadership chose to try to score political points by pushing a resolution to undo the FCC's decision, even though undoing this decision will do nothing to provide a permanent solution on net neutrality", said Sen.

The new rules require internet providers to tell consumers whether they will block or slow content or offer paid "fast lanes". "Without net neutrality, rural communities and New Hampshire businesses could be put at a disadvantage with restricted internet access and unfair practices from internet service providers".

The agency's two Democrats at the time, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, voted to keep the rules on the books. They say they support net neutrality but want Congress to pass a law codifying it instead of leaving it up to federal agencies that can reverse course with each new administration.

Pai's opponents have said the rules are a necessary consumer protection as the Internet has become more vital to supporting the economic livelihoods of everyday Americans. "Let's treat the internet like the public good that it is".

The Internet Association, a trade group backed by Facebook, Uber and others, have said that regulations targeting Silicon Valley on hate speech risks running afoul of the First Amendment.

Making Trump's approval more unlikely is the fact that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave FCC Chairman Pai's efforts to roll back the Obama-era net neutrality rules the White House's imprimatur past year during a July press briefing. "It is unclear, as a matter of law, whether the CRA can repeal an "order" as opposed to a "rule'", he said in a statement".

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