US Senate passes bill protecting net neutrality, likely a symbolic gesture
Senators have voted in favor of a bill to protect net neutrality principles by a margin of 52 to 47. Reuters reports that two independents and three Republican members, a larger number than initially expected, joined 47 Democratic members in affirming at roll call.
Senate Joint Resolution 52 is intended to nullify the FCC’s repeal of the Open Internet Order. The conservative-led agency passed the Restoring Internet Freedom Order in December. It is expected to take full effect on June 11. The bill would need passage by the House of Representatives and the President’s signature to become law. Both campuses are controlled by Republicans in favor of repeal.
Mike Doyle, a Democratic House representative, intends on forcing a vote on the bill next week.
Politicians are trying to leverage the topic of net neutrality into constituent action during the 2018 midterm elections as the balance of power in Congress has the potential to shift to Democrats. Republicans have been dismissive of what they perceive as posturing and are confident that citizens will be content after the Restoring Internet Freedom Order takes place.
“The fact of the matter is nothing is going to change,” said John Thune, a Republican Senator who chairs the Commerce Committee. “I don’t know how that animates people to vote if their Netflix is working.”
FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who led the repeal campaign, was also confident that the bill would not go any further.
“Ultimately, I’m confident that [the Senate’s] effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail,” Pai said.
Net neutrality centers around treating all traffic equally without blocking or creating different speed tiers to derive profit from privileged access. The Open Internet Order used existing FCC classifications to label internet service providers as common carriers, which still allowed them to their own rates or give notice of service offering changes.
States have started passing their own net neutrality laws in contradiction to the new FCC rules while at least 23 state attorneys general have filed suit against the bureau.