Senate Moves to Restore FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules for Consumers

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Today, the United States Senate voted to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. If passed by the House and signed by President Trump, the CRA would roll back the agency’s 2017 vote to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order. The D.C. Circuit Court upheld the FCC’s Open Internet Order not just once, but twice.

The net neutrality rules prevented broadband providers from blocking websites, throttling web traffic, or creating “fast lanes” only for those able to pay for prioritization. Millions of Americans expressed support for these rules by submitting comments with the FCC leading up to the 2015 Open Internet Order, and millions of Americans opposed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s rollback of these rules.

Public Knowledge welcomes the Senate’s vote to restore the FCC’s net neutrality rules and encourages all Americans to contact their representatives to demand that Congress reinstate the rules.

The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“Today the Senate voted on a bipartisan basis to restore the net neutrality rules that millions of Americans have demanded and enjoyed over the past three years. This could not come soon enough because as of June 11, the FCC’s out-of-touch repeal of net neutrality rules will go into effect.

“Americans of all ideologies support keeping the strong net neutrality rules. Recent polls show that 86 percent of Americans want to keep strong net neutrality rules, including 82 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats. Only in Washington is this controversial, largely due to the influence of high paid lobbyists for big cable and telecommunications companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Outside Washington, net neutrality rules are popular, have supported billions of dollars in investment in broadband networks and services online, and was upheld in court twice.

“Net neutrality is what allows the internet to be a tool for free speech, permissionless innovation, and diverse voices on an infinite number of websites. Without it, cable and telecommunications companies are clear that they would block or prefer some content over others, making the internet look more like cable television with some content only accessible to those who can afford to pay more. Internet service providers have a long history of net neutrality violations and without rules they will finally have the freedom to discriminate online.

“Public Knowledge thanks the many Republican, Democratic, and Independent senators who championed preserving net neutrality rules. This starts with the resolution’s lead sponsor, Sen. Ed Markey, a tireless champion for preserving an Open Internet. After Sen. Markey’s bold leadership in charting a path forward using the CRA, Sen. Charles Schumer committed to working with Sen. Markey and other leaders on the Commerce Committee to organize support among a majority of senators.

“Of course, this vote would not have succeeded or represented all Americans without the bipartisan support of Sens. Susan Collins, Angus King, John Neely Kennedy, and Lisa Murkowski, who understand that everyone benefits from the free market that is created by the protection of an Open Internet. For years, FCC commissioners of all political stripes had worked to enforce net neutrality until Chairman Ajit Pai and the FCC majority took the agency out of the role of the protecting an Open Internet. With this vote, we’re one step closer to restoring that important role.

“Net neutrality is not the only important protection consumers need in the broadband era, but broadband providers have run a deceptive lobbying campaign to hoodwink Americans into opposing the resolution to preserve net neutrality because it doesn’t prevent other consumer harms, like online privacy violations. These data intrusions continue to be legal on broadband networks because providers themselves urged Congress to repeal the FCC's privacy rules last year. Promises from ISPs don’t matter if it’s legal for them to adopt harmful practices, including bad privacy policies, on a whim. That’s not consumer protection -- that’s just self-regulation.

“Thankfully, enough senators were not fooled. Now it is up to the House to act quickly before the net neutrality repeal takes effect June 11. All Americans should contact their representatives in the House and ask them to support the net neutrality CRA resolution to restore the rules before the repeal goes into effect.”

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