USA net neutrality bill gets enough Senate votes to advance

USA net neutrality bill gets enough Senate votes to advance

The United States Senate has just voted to restore net neutrality regulations, which the FCC voted in December to eliminate.

Like many other national issues, the subject is a partisan one.

The measure, approved by a 52-47 vote, would void a decision made in December by the Republican majority of the Federal Communications Commission to scrap the regulations established in 2015 by the agency when Democrats controlled it during the Obama administration.

A simple majority is required, but right now only a single Republican Senator, Maine's Susan Collins, has courageously stepped across the aisle to join the Democrat-led effort.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., called it a "highly politicized campaign" that was filled with "fear-mongering hypotheticals, misdirection and outright false claims".

However, the fight to save net neutrality will continue to the House of Representatives, and potentially, to the desk of President Donald Trump.

Republicans say they back open internet principles and want Democrats to negotiate to enshrine net neutrality rules in law. The FCC's net neutrality repeal gave broadband providers extraordinary new powers to block websites, throttle services and play favorites when it comes to online content.

The replacement rules, which go into effect next month, have a lighter-touch to enforcement.

Senator Brian Schatz speaks at the Democratic of Hawaii's unity breakfast held at the Dole Cannery Ballroom. 14 aug 2016
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has been a vocal advocate within his party for net

"At Stonyfield, and at businesses across New Hampshire, we rely on an internet that provides equal access and helps us reach our customers and the farms we source from", said Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture.

Despite surviving a court challenge from broadband industry groups seeking to overturn the rules in 2016, they came under fire again a year later - this time from the agency's new Republican leadership. She says small dairy farmers her company works with rely on affordable Internet service to manage records and access markets.

Pai, the FCC chairman, expressed confidence the Democrats' effort would eventually fail. Even though it's "very likely" consumers won't see a change in Internet service soon, "people understand that a free and open internet is worth fighting for". Democrats think the fight to restore the rules could be a political victor during November's congressional midterm elections even if the effort is unsuccessful because it will force Republicans to vote against reinstating the rules. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who sponsored the CRA resolution.

With voting still ongoing, supporters had 51 votes to proceed to the bill while 46 Republicans have voted no. "(The Communications Act of 1934) regulations that put consumers first".

Wednesday's vote to still has some obstacles to face. "Unfortunately, it's only going to delay Senate Democrats from coming to the table and negotiating bipartisan net neutrality legislation".

Now 161 lawmakers in the House have voiced support for the CRA. "A big part of this is continuing to support things we believe in but also raising awareness and ensuring that people are aware that Congress has the opportunity to act here".

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called the vote a "victory for a grassroots", while characterizing the FCC repeal as a "brazen giveaway at the expense of American families and citizens".

More Tech: Net neutrality: The FCC voted to end it.

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