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US Senate votes to restore and save Net Neutrality

17 May 2018

Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., second from left, Sen.

Senate voted Wednesday to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed last December. They will face a tough fight in the House because many Republican reps support FCC's regulation.

Democrats were undeterred. They saw their effort as something that will energize young voters who value unfettered access to the internet. "This is a defining vote". However, a similar vote looks unlikely in the Republican-dominated U.S. House. Edward Markey of MA, who sponsored the measure.

It was enacted in 2015 before the FCC repealed it in December. He said that instead lawmakers should write legislation "that would safeguard consumers but still prevent regulators from stifling innovation".

Before the vote, Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, urged fellow senators to disregard the "armies of lobbyists marching the halls of Congress on behalf of big internet service providers". The activists are not losing hope so far and are very sure they could actually get through the House.

He said the internet thrived long before the Obama administration stepped in, and he predicted that when the Trump administration's rule scrapping net neutrality goes into effect in June, consumers won't notice a change in service.

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Similarly, Snapchat parent Snap said in February that adopting laws that "adversely affect the growth, popularity, or use of the internet, including laws governing internet neutrality, could decrease the demand for our products and increase our cost of doing business".

Joining all Democratic senators in voting to reverse the FCC's action were GOP Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as three Republicans - Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. If it does not do so, net neutrality proponents should ensure that it is a major campaign issue in every district where an incumbent congressman has voted to turn over the public good to narrow interests for their profit. This time, however, it was Democrats who led the effort to kill a rule supported by the Trump administration.

AT&T said Wednesday it backs an open internet and "actual bipartisan legislation that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protections for all internet users".

"A free and open internet is a building block for the 21st Century and we must pursue ways to help it flourish", Sen.

The FCC decided in 2015 to reclassify internet service providers as common carriers under a 1996 law.

Democrats argued that scrapping the rules would give ISPs free rein to suppress certain content or promote sites that pay them.

US Senate votes to restore and save Net Neutrality