Democrats in the United States Senate want net neutrality, but despite passing a measure this week, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal that goes into place next month will likely remain intact.
After being appointed by President Donald Trump last year, FCC Chairman Ajut Pai announced the agency would be repealing internet rules implemented during the Obama administration. Specifically, the FCC said regulations barring internet service providers (ISPs) from prioritizing websites and apps will no longer remain in place. The decision is to go into effect next month.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed a measure 52-47 urging the FCC to reconsider. Senate Joint Resolution 52 states that “Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘Restoring Internet Freedom,’ and such rule shall have no force or effect.”
All 47 Senate Democrats voted in favor of the resolution. Three Republicans and two independents also backed the measure.
“Today is a monumental day,” said Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts). “Today we show the American people who sides with them, and who sides with the powerful special interests and corporate donors who are thriving under this administration.”
“The grandparents, the gamers, the gearheads, the geeks, the GIF-makers, the Generations X, Y, and Z. This movement to save net neutrality is made up of every walk of American life,” Markey concluded.
Backers of net neutrality argue the governing rules are critical to maintaining an open internet.
They believe without such regulations, ISPs are free to dictate what consumers can and cannot access, and could manipulate internet speeds to certain websites.
That could present problems for internet casino operators in states where such gambling has been authorized. And the Supreme Court’s decision this week that the longstanding sports betting ban is unconstitutional, is now expected to expand the activity out of just Nevada and into states across the country.
But what if a company like Comcast wants to steer clear of sports betting and online gambling due to legal worries?
Senate Republicans say net neutrality proponents have successfully marketed their position using scare tactics. Pai says the FCC’s net neutrality guidelines overregulate the internet and prevent growth in the private market and subsequent investment in telecommunication infrastructure.
“It’s important Republicans have a clear and concise message to tell them why net neutrality, while it sounds good and maybe it’s even well-intended, is not the right answer,” Sen. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia) declared.
The Senate resolution gives Democratic senators another campaign talking point before the November elections. With the GOP-controlled House not expected to take up the issue, this week’s net neutrality vote was a bit of “political theater,” as described by Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota).
Net neutrality has emerged as an emotional campaign position. In fact, NPR reports that during Pennsylvania and Nebraska’s primaries on Tuesday, the issue was the second most Googled topic in those states behind only health care.