FCC schedules official repeal of net neutrality rules; US Senate votes to reverse

UPDATE — 5/16, 4:23 p.m. EDT: The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday by a count of 52–47 to pass a resolution which would effectively overturn the FCC’s decision to reverse Obama-era net neutrality rules.

Republicans voting in favor of the measure were Sens. Collins (Maine), Kennedy (La.) and Murkowski (Alaska).

 

Net neutrality seems to have lived a short life. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to put an end to rules that restrict the ability of internet service providers to control the speed of access to certain digital content including websites and digital applications.

The FCC announced Thursday the order to overturn net neutrality, passed in December 2017, will take effect on Monday, June 11.

The Obama administration’s Open Internet Order of 2015 officially established net neutrality, but Republicans were expected to repeal the regulations following Donald Trump’s presidential election victory in November 2016. 

In a last ditch effort, the U.S. Senate has scheduled a vote for Wednesday to overturn the FCC’s repeal of the Obama order by employing the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which needs 51 votes to pass.

The CRA in this case has support of key figures including Tim Berners-Lee, famously known as the father of the World Wide Web, along with all 49 Senate Democrats and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The issue of net neutrality has been hotly debated between both Democrats and Republicans and at the grassroots level. 

Many widely agree to the basic principles of net neutrality. However, the 2015 rules struck controversy.

One the primary reasons was the FCC with a majority of Democrats worked to reclassify broadband networks to fall under the same strict regulations that govern telephone networks.

Now, Democrats in Congress and internet companies, including Facebook, have strongly voiced their support of neutrality, along with a majority of the public.

However, Republicans in Congress have supported the issue of repeal under Ajit Pai’s chairmanship. They argue that net neutrality rules negatively impact growth, innovation and investment in the digital network infrastructure.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai maintains the old rules were unnecessary because the internet has always been free and open.

“The Internet wasn’t broken in 2015, when the prior FCC buckled to political pressure and imposed heavy-handed Title II rules on the Internet economy,” he said in a statement.

Highlighting the impact of reversing net neutrality rules, Pai told reporters that the rollback would not harm consumers and will result in “better, faster, cheaper internet access and the free and open internet that we have had for many, many years.”

 

[Reuters] [CNN] [NPR] [CNET]

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