The US Senate is voting today on whether to restore the FCC’s net neutrality rules
The US Senate is voting today on whether to restore the FCC’s net-neutrality rules Troy Wolverton The US Senate is voting Wednesday on whether to put the Federal Communications Commission’s net-neutrality rules back in place. The Senate resolution would overturn a vote by the agency in December to scuttle its open-internet regulations. The resolution has drawn the support of half of all senators, but it needs a majority vote to pass. Even if it passes, the resolution faces a dubious future, as it would go to the House of Representatives and, if it passes there, to President Donald Trump.
The US Senate on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on whether to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s net-neutrality rules.
Though the vote on the measure has been expected for months, its outcome is uncertain. Fifty senators have declared their support for it – one shy of the majority needed to pass it.
The Senate will vote on a resolution under the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress, with a simple-majority vote in both houses, to overturn new regulations by federal agencies within 60 legislative days of implementation.
The resolution will seek to overturn a rule voted on by the FCC in December that eliminated most of its net-neutrality regulations.
Net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet should basically be treated the same. While the name for the principle isn’t that old, the basic idea predates the internet and has its roots in the telephone and telegraph networks and even older services.
For nearly all of the past 10 years, the FCC has had in place rules that sought to guarantee net-neutrality protections. The latest version of the agency’s rules, from 2015, barred internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or giving preferential treatment to particular online sites or services.
The FCC’s new anti-net-neutrality regulation, which is set to take effect next month, eliminates those prohibitions. Instead, it simply requires providers to disclose how they handle internet traffic. It also hands off to the Federal Trade Commission the job of making sure the providers abide by the terms they have disclosed and to watch out for anti-competitive behaviour on their part.
That the agency overturned its rules was no surprise. Ajit Pai, its new chairman appointed by President Donald Trump, made clear that he opposed the net-neutrality rules and would seek to eliminate them when he took over the FCC’s head. However, he did so despite widespread support for the rules; a survey taken around the time of the FCC’s December vote showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans supported keeping them in place, including most Republican voters.
Even if the Senate passes the resolution, it’s unlikely to be enacted. Thus far, its drawn far less than majority support in the House of Representatives. And Trump is unlikely to sign a resolution that would effectively rebuke his chosen FCC chairman.
However, net-neutrality supporters are also seeking to overturn the FCC’s action in federal courts. And they have been pushing measures in the states that would offer net-neutrality protections within their borders. NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au . Tagged In