Senate reinstates net neutrality (for now)

In a vote today, Senators managed to narrowly overturn the FCC’s so-called ‘Restoring Internet Freedom Order’ which repealed Obama-era laws ensuring net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the idea that all internet users should be treated equally. Critics argue that heavier users, or services which use greater bandwidth, should pay more to cover infrastructure costs.

If you trust your cable company, you’re not going to like my vote today

Advocates for maintaining net neutrality rules are concerned repealing them will lead to ‘fast lanes’ on the internet; while also being anti-competitive. A web giant like Netflix, for example, could afford priority access for its users. A startup looking to enter the space would struggle due to its limited resources and influence.

Democrats in the Senate enacted the CRA (Congressional Review Act) to force a vote on halting the rollback of the net neutrality rules.

The result was close, 52 - 47 in favour of overturning the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. All 49 Democrats voted in favour, along with three Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Speaking to Washington Post, Kennedy summed it up: “If you trust your cable company, you’re not going to like my vote today,” he told the paper. “If you don’t trust your cable company, you will.”

Net neutrality receives majority support from both Democrat and Republican voters. In a survey conducted by Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland, 83 percent of respondents — including 89 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans — were in favour of keeping the existing rules.

Former FCC lawyer Gigi Sohn said: “Don’t listen to the naysayers - momentum is on the side of those who favour restoring net neutrality now.”

While the vote is a win for net neutrality supporters, this isn’t the end of the issue. The CRA will now move to the House of Representatives and will also require approval from President Donald Trump.

Deciphering President Trump’s position on any matter can be difficult, as it notoriously seems to change day-to-day. However, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai — who is leading the call to repeal the rules — was appointed by Trump, so it’s difficult to imagine he’ll support the CRA.

What are your thoughts on net neutrality? Let us know in the comments.

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