Senate Bill to Restore Net Neutrality Rule Secures Floor Vote

Jan 12, 2018

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
Credit Alex Wong-Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. Senate bill that would reverse a recent Federal Communications Commission decision to roll back net neutrality has received more than 30 co-sponsors, and will therefore get a floor vote.

Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading the effort to use the Congressional Review Act to block the FCC's move to rollback open internet protections. Evan Greer, campaign director with the group Fight for the Future, said under the Congressional Review Act, the bill only needs a simple majority to pass in both houses. "More than 75 percent of Republican voters oppose the FCC's move to get rid of net neutrality, don't want their cable companies controlling what they see and do on the internet," Greer said. "It's a moment of reckoning for lawmakers to get on the right side of history on this issue." Greer said she thinks the bill represents the best legislative option to restore protections, because once it's signed into law, it would prohibit the FCC from trying another net neutrality rollback in the future.

The agency's chairman, Ajit Pai, was a vocal critic of the Obama Administration's decision to regulate the internet as a utility, similar to telephone service. Pai has called for a return to what he describes as "a regulatory climate free from government intrusion." Greer argued that the FCC's decision opens the door for internet service providers to micro-manage consumers' online activities and charge additional fees for access to platforms like Facebook or Google. She said the move could also blunt economic activity from start-ups and small businesses who may not have the resources to pay for "fast lanes" to deliver content to customers from their websites. "It's about basic principles that prevent powerful actors from controlling what we see and do online," Greer said. "It's basic technological principles that prevent monopoly corporations - like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T - from regulating the internet."

She said hers isn't the only group that plans to double down on efforts to get people to urge their representatives to save what many have called the "First Amendment of the Internet." Greer pointed out that, in this election year, every U.S. Senate member will have to go on the record once the bill is brought to a vote.