United States Senate Votes to Save Net Neutrality

In a 52-49 vote, the US Senate voted against the Federal Communications Commission and voted in favor of keeping Net Neutrality.

United States Senate Votes to Save Net Neutrality
The Senate section of the US Capitol Building Scrumshus / Wikipedia Creative Commons

The US Senate voted to 'save the internet' and reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeals of net neutrality regulations. The Senate's vote in favor of reinstating Net Neutrality came from all of the Democrats and three Republicans. 

The vote was 52-47, and it gave supporters of net neutrality and a free and open internet hope around the world.

The FCC's original ruling to repeal Net Neutrality came in December 2017, and it would provide significantly more power to the internet goliaths. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution approved by the Senate would require internet service providers (ISPs) to keep following regulations and would keep major players from blocking smaller businesses, throttling competition, or paying for priority status. 

The Senate's repeal challenge will still have to make it through a Republican-controlled House in order to survive. Republicans currently have 236 seats in the House, a sizable lead over the Democrats' 193 person showing. As of right now, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's repeal will take effect on June 11. 

It's a discussion and decision that's captured global attention on a variety of political spectrums. The Net Neutrality votes have even garnered attention from celebrities like Star Wars's Mark Hamill and Last Week Tonight's John Oliver.

That doesn't mean that Democrats are stepping down anytime soon. Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachussets, urged his fellow senators to ignore the "armies of lobbyists marching the halls of Congress on behalf of big Internet service providers."

For the Republicans, repealing net neutrality wouldn't be a loss of regulation. It would, instead, be a return to how the early era of the internet was governed. 

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According to Senator John Thune of South Dakota who opposed the Senate's decision, the vote was a display in "political theater" rather than actual bipartisanship. Thune wants Democrats to collaborate with him and other Republicans on plans that could bring the best parts of net neutrality into a new plan without the regulations that net neutrality has come to be associated with.

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"That's what we're going back to: rules that were in place for two decades under a light-touch regulatory approach that allowed the internet to explode and prosper and grow," Thune said.

During the Senate hearing, however, Democrats were not persuaded by that argument. 

"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, D-N.Y., before the vote.

After the vote, FCC Chairman Pai voiced his displeasure.

"It’s disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin,” Pai said in a statement. “But ultimately, I’m confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail.”

However, senators like Republican John Kennedy of Louisiana -- one of three Republicans to side with the Democrats -- said they felt confident in their vote.

“It was a fairly close call, but I'll tell you what it comes down to: the extent to which you trust your cable company,” Kennedy told The Washington Post moments after casting his vote. “If you trust your cable company, you're not going to like my vote today. If you don't trust your cable company, you will.” 

Via: CBS News

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