Senate Votes Today on Restoring Net Neutrality

The United States Senate today is voting on whether to overturn the FCC’s decision to cancel its net neutrality rules.

Those rules prevent ISPs from treating some Internet traffic better than others–by, for example, speeding up the traffic of paid partners and slowing down traffic for those who don’t pay extra. Under Net Neutrality, smaller businesses can compete on merit, on an equal playing field, rather than facing artificially high barriers to entry. That’s how upstart newcomers like Google, Netflix, and Facebook were able to challenge huge, established insiders like Yahoo, Blockbuster, and MySpace.

Ending Net Neutrality would end that environment, removing a level playing field. If approved by the Senate, the measure would then need to be approved also in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Although Net Neutrality is not a partisan issue, with over 80% in favor of it across party lines (and 86% in favor overall) according to an April 2018 poll (University of Maryland), for some reason DC lawmakers have split largely along party lines, with the D’s and Independents overwhelmingly in favor and only the R’s generally against, in spite of their constituents’ views. This makes the measure’s chances of success far from assured given the artificially political climate surrounding the question.

Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight For The Future, an activist group in favor of Net Neutrality, says about the upcoming fight in the House of Representatives that “DC insiders and pundits claim that we’ll never get anywhere in the House. But … those are the same DC insiders that never thought we’d get a Senate vote today.”

Greer also told WTDHPL over e-mail that “[The] work for Internet freedom will continue long after today, but the outcome of this vote will affect the battlefield that we are fighting on for years to come.

“This is the most important thing for everyone to understand: we’re facing off with some of the most politically powerful corporations in the world. We’re fighting an uphill battle. But in the big picture, we are winning on net neutrality.

“The polls just keep getting better. The latest shows that 86% of voters from across the political spectrum—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike—oppose the FCC’s repeal. No one wants their cable company to control which websites and apps they can use, where they get their news, or how they listen to music and stream video.

“And that overwhelming public consensus is turning into real political power…. The fight ahead is not going to be easy, but victory is within reach.”

Edit, Wed May 16 17:52:24 EDT 2018: The Senate resolution in favor of Net Neutrality passed by a vote of 52-47 (NPR).

“The key to winning in the Senate was mobilizing so much grassroots pressure that it was impossible for undecided senators to ignore us. And that will be even more true in the House of Representatives, where every member is already looking ahead to November and trying to figure out how to keep their seats in what is predicted to be an incredibly close election,” said Sarah Roth-Gaudette, Executive Director at Fight for the Future. “No one thought we’d get this far, but this is just the first step. Now we need to pass the same resolution in the House of Representatives.”

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