Senate Votes to Reverse FCC's Net Neutrality Repeal


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, part of the Republican majority, has said the Obama rule was "heavy-handed" and isn't needed.

"Now, on June 11, these unnecessary and harmful internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light-touch approach that served the online world well for almost 20 years will be restored", Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, said in a statement. John Kennedy (R-La.), broke with the rest of their party and voted for the measure.

If it ultimately passed by Congress and signed by President Trump - a big if - the net neutrality rules that the FCC had in place since 2015 would be restored.

Supporters of net neutrality protest the Federal Communications Commission's decision to roll back its open-internet rules.

Net neutrality is a nickname for Obama-era regulations that require internet providers to treat all online traffic the same, without creating paid fast lanes or throttling content from some services. The bill will now move to the House, where another majority vote is required, but Republicans have stronger control, with 235 members versus the Democrats' 193.

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Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said without net neutrality, large broadband companies become even more powerful, hindering competition from smaller companies.

"It goes right to the heart of our identity as a free and open society", he said.

This issue doesn't cut along clean party lines, said Steven Kull, who runs the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland and has studied public attitudes on net neutrality. With the House now Republican controlled, it will be a very hard, if not insurmountable, task to pass it in the House as well. John Thune (R-SD) in the session's opening. He also said that what is happening is that the issue has been "bouncing back and forth" as the FCC's ideological makeup shifts with each presidential administration.

Republicans said they are willing to work with Democrats on enshrining the principle of net neutrality in legislation. A number of states have passed open internet protections, creating a patchwork of regulation in the US that internet service providers will be forced to navigate or potentially challenge at the federal level. "The grandparents, the gamers, the gearheads, the geeks, the gif-makers, the Generations X, Y, and Z. This movement to save net neutrality is made up of every walk of American life", he said. But the new rules are opposed by internet firms like Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc. About 40 top executives from MA companies including Zipcar, Carbonite, MathWorks, and Rapid7 signed a letter this month supporting Markey's effort to preserve what they call "a free and open Internet".