ICYMI, the FCC opted to eliminate 2015 Obama-era guidelines for Net Neutrality guidelines that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher quality service – ultimately treating high-speed internet like a utility. This change, despite relatively vast amounts of disagreement from the public (a University of Maryland poll estimates 83 percent of voters supported the guidelines) and the legal precedent that the laws had been supported in court.
Naturally, people aren’t happy.
And the representatives are hearing it, even though the rules aren’t set to go into effect immediately. At the state level, multiple states are planning to sue to protect Net Neutrality: including, New York, Washington, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts.
At the federal level, Net Neutrality advocates look to the House of Representatives. The Congressional Review Act (learn about this here) allows congress to overturn actions by regulatory agencies. This would void the repeal and prevent a similar repeal in the future.
Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader for the Senate and a fierce net neutrality advocate, plans to push a vote onto the floor, which needs only a simple majority. The Republican majority is set to dwindle to just 2 in a 51-49 after Doug Jones (D-Al) is sworn in in the Senate.
The House of Representatives and President Trump however, may be a more challenging obstacle. The majority is much more substantial 239-193 majority. And Trump, ever focused on his “cut regulations and let the market run it” approach considers the FCC repeal a win. Most anti-net neutrality advocates of the repeal consider it a victory, with the removal of regulations leading to innovation and job growth.
Many Republicans have been relatively silent or dismissive of net neutrality advocates’ concerns. Still, in response to the growing backlash, House telecom Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) plans on introducing a net neutrality bill this week that will prohibit blocking or throttling by ISPs – although it is likely to espouse standards significantly weaker than current rules.
Regardless of where you stand on the repeal, it’s important to stay in the know. The American Civil Liberties Union offers a primer on the topic, and we have written endlessly on the topic for years – get to know and understand net neutrality so you can better understand the situation.