Members of Congress in favor of requiring net neutrality rules for internet service providers have enough signatures to force a Congressional vote on the issue.
Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts tweeted that backers of a bill to restore net neutrality requirements have enough signatures and will officially file the petition on May 9 to force a vote in Congress on overturning a move by the Federal Communications Commission to ditch the former requirements.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) April 30, 2018
Late last year the FCC repealed the net neutrality rules that prevented internet providers from treating some legal internet content differently than other legal internet content. The vote has spurred a widespread backlash – and several states have moved, through executive order from the governor or legislation, to individually put rules in place that will essentially make ISPs treat content the same, as if the rules were still in place.
Democrats, who generally favor restoring net neutrality rules, have said they think the issue will be salient in the 2018 and 2020 elections if they aren’t able to reverse the FCC decision first. That may be a big part of the move for a vote – conceding defeat but using the issue to motivate voters this November. Politico reported Monday that the proposal, as it is now, is unlikely to pass in the House, but even if if it does, it’s assumed President Trump would veto such a bill.
Backers of the FCC’s decision to repeal the Obama-era rule requiring net neutrality argued that the rules, which prevented internet companies, for example, from selling bundled packages that would give favored access to content from certain providers, stifled innovation in the industry.
WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY?
The idea of net neutrality is that broadband providers (Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, for example) must treat all legal traffic coming through the cable that brings you the internet the same. That is, if you’re streaming a movie on Netflix, that content comes through the pipe just the same as if you’re streaming something on Youtube. That is, it comes through at the same speed, and that you don’t have to pay extra for Internet that lets certain content come through. For example, when net neutrality rules were in place, your internet provider couldn’t make a deal with Netflix to deliver its movies at normal speed, while slowing down content from Amazon or Hulu or Youtube. Now, legally, they could do that, though the big ones mostly say publicly that they wouldn’t, because it would anger customers.
Democrats in Congress earlier this year came out in favor of restoring the rules, but likely don’t enough votes to pass it there. Markey’s announcement means there is also now enough support in the Senate to at least get a vote, but they are thought to be one short of enough votes for passage in the Senate.
Supporters of the repeal have 60 legislative days from the Feb. 22 publication of the repeal notice to force a vote to reverse the FCC.