Will Dems Be Able to Preserve Net Neutrality After All?

16 May, 2018, 06:45 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • Senate Democrats push to block net neutrality repeal using Congressional Review Act

Markey introduced the legislation to use CRA authority to undo the FCC's vote to repeal the net neutrality regulations. By doing so, internet service providers such as Verizon and AT&T will be able to prioritize certain online traffic over others, effectively ending "net neutrality".

The effort still faces an uphill battle - it is uncertain if the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives will even vote on the issue and the White House backs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules approved last December. If the Senate succeeds, the vote would then proceed to the House.

Without congressional action to overturn the FCC's decision, the old net neutrality rules expire June 11.

The group urged supporters to call key senators in Utah, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and California, as well as Murkowski, Gardner, and Kennedy, to ensure that the Democratic caucus of 49 senators have the Republican support they need to pass the CRA. Sen. "The FTC is simply not equipped to protect the free and open internet". Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Kennedy (R-La.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) are now on the fence, due to concerns over "retribution from Comcast's and Verizon's army of lobbyists", according to the net neutrality advocacy group Fight for the Future.

"We are working on getting the votes, and we're optimistic that we can", said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., when asked if the CRA majority vote could pose a hurdle.

The resolution is likely to be vetoed if it reaches the president's desk. To do it, they must submit a disapproval resolution within 60 days after Congress receives the rule, excluding days when the legislature isn't in session.

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"The problem for Mr. Pai is that government agencies are not free to abruptly reverse longstanding rules on which many have relied without a good reason, such as a change in factual circumstances. Anti-trust is very often after the fact".

The distinction is a crucial one, according to Tom Wheeler, a former FCC Chairman during the Obama administration. "I think one of the main reasons the ISPs want it at the FTC is that it's ex-poste [after-the-fact], rather than ex-ante [before-the-fact], and second of all, because the FTC has to deal with 100 percent of the economy, everything from prescription drugs to bleach labeling. the FTC will be otherwise occupied". "The choice should be clear-the American public should always come first".

Democrats argue the new rules give too much power to Internet service providers, whom they fear will throttle down Internet speeds for some websites and services while ramping it up for others who pay more for faster speeds.

But critics of the decision said it would let companies like Verizon - which owns Yahoo and AOL - to favor their own content providers by making it harder or more expensive for customers to connect with competitors.

However, some Republicans aren't sold that net neutrality is such an easy win for Democrats.

That said, the best bet to reverse the FCC's attack on net neutrality rests with the courts. "Indeed, where consumers desire neutrality, they'll get it through market competition, facilitated by the FCC's transparency rules and by antitrust and consumer protection law enforced by the FTC, DOJ, state attorney generals, and private plaintiffs".

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