Senate Votes to Halt the Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules

Senate Votes to Halt the Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules

Senate Votes to Halt the Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules

The Senate on Wednesday voted to reverse a Federal Communications Commission order that repeals the bulk of regulations governing internet neutrality rules. Senate Democrats believe their resolution that put every Democrat on record in support of net neutrality - and most Republicans on record against it - can turn what was once considered a wonk issue, into a wedge issue this November.

Net neutrality restricts internet service providers from slowing down or speeding up access to certain websites. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who sponsored the measure.

"Today's vote in the Senate is the biggest win for internet freedom since we blocked PIPA and SOPA from becoming law".

The last-ditch effort comes just weeks before June 11, the date designated by the FCC as the end of rules on net neutrality, the idea that all material on the internet should be treated equally and access should not be restricted or favored by internet providers in any way.

But Pai did so despite widespread support for the rules; a survey taken around the time of the FCC's December vote found that an overwhelming majority of Americans supported keeping them in place, including most Republican voters. Republicans used this talking point to argue that ISPs shouldn't be forced to operate under different rules than websites in their support for ending net neutrality protections. While it seems unlikely if that would happen, the Senate's vote is a strong indication of the pushback by Americans in different states that led to today's vote.

"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. Three Republicans - Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - broke with their party to support the measure.

Under the original net neutrality rule, internet service providers were banned from providing faster internet access and preferred services to companies for extra fees - so called "fast lanes". A number of states have passed open internet protections, creating a patchwork of regulation in the USA that internet service providers will be forced to navigate or potentially challenge at the federal level. CRA bills allow Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber and the president's signature, to overturn recent agency moves.

Eventually, net neutrality may be restored. Without those, telecom companies could quash competition and free speech on the Internet - a response consumer groups warn is increasingly likely as Netflix and other streaming services eat up the telecoms' bandwidth.

However, net-neutrality supporters are also seeking to overturn the FCC's action in federal courts.

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