Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Senate votes to ditch repeal of net neutrality

REUTERS REUTERS
Nellie Chapman | 17 May, 2018, 13:57

Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate "net neutrality" rules as "political theater" because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate's margin could not overcome a presidential veto. John Boozman, R-Ark., said in a written statement. The Washington Post reported that the senate approved a resolution on Wednesday, targeting the FCC's December decision.

It has been just over five months since the FCC in the USA voted to dismantle Obama-era net neutrality rules, with three out of five commissioners involved choosing to end the regulation. Using the Congressional Review Act, or CRA, senators were able to reverse the decision reached by the government agency. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as three Republicans - Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

AT&T said Wednesday it backs an open internet and "actual bipartisan legislation that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protections for all internet users". After several delays, the repeal is now set to go into effect on June 11th. They were the focus of heavy lobbying by Net neutrality supporters in recent days. The CTIA, USTelecom and the NCTA earlier sent a joint letter to senators asking them to vote against the measure. They will face a tough fight in the House because many Republican reps support FCC's regulation.

Net neutrality rules, enacted under fomer President Barack Obama, prevented internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon from forcing customers to pay extra to access certain websites, or slowing down traffic speeds to certain websites. Tech giants such as Google and Facebook have been vocal in their support for the retention of the rules.

"As the inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, said, the internet must remain a permissionless space for creativity, innovation and free expression", said McGrath.

Net Neutrality protesters in Philadelphia. "The repeal of net neutrality would allow internet service providers to put their profits before the consumers they serve and control what we see, do, and say online".

"Today is a monumental day", said Democratic senator Edward Markey during a debate. Tech companies have been signaling that the repeal of net neutrality could lead to significant financial consequences.

He said the internet thrived long before the Obama administration stepped in, and he predicted that when the Trump administration's rule scrapping net neutrality goes into effect in June, consumers won't notice a change in service.

Information for this article was contributed by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.