Net Neutrality to Get US Senate Vote as Democrats Force Issue

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Net Neutrality to Get US Senate Vote as Democrats Force Issue

The Internet Association, comprised of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Netflix and other large tech firms, said on January 5 that it plans to join the looming legal fight against the Federal Communications Commission over its repeal of so-called net neutrality rules, according to the New York Times.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) then launched an effort to reverse the FCC's repeal via the Congressional Review Act.

Markey would have to wait until the FCC's action is published in the Federal Register before calling for a vote, but it is unclear when that will happen.

Claire McCaskill of Missouri is the latest senator to sign on to the nullification effort, according to Free Press, a consumer-rights group that supports the net-neutrality rules.

But net neutrality backers have argued that clear rules are needed to prevent internet service providers from blocking or throttling services or websites for competitive reasons, and that the rollback would increase the power of a few dominant providers to control what users see online.

Lawsuits seeking to block the FCC's new policy, which was approved in December 2017, are anticipated in the coming weeks, once the rules take effect. Previously a seldom-used, obscure law, the CRA was used multiple times a year ago to overturn regulations issued in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Still, Free Press and others are pushing forward, noting that the net neutrality rules are widely popular.

The ink isn't even dry on the FCC's new rules to reverse net neutrality, but the opposition has already started making waves across the US. A University of Maryland poll last month found they were supported by 83% of Americans, including 75% of Republicans.

The controversial decision to repeal net neutrality, which opened the door to Internet providers favoring certain online traffic, could still be overturned. Once the bill goes to a vote, it will still need a majority to pass and then will wind up on Trump's desk, who is unlikely to approve the bill. Including the more than 75% of Republican voters who support net neutrality? At a conference previous year in California, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said while net neutrality is "incredibly important", it's no longer "narrowly important to us because we're big enough to get the deals we want".

Before this, a lot of the same big tech companies were fairly passive and inactive during the initial protests of the repeal. The Internet Association - whose member companies include Google, Facebook and Netflix - said last week it is prepared to join a legal battle against repealing the rules, which were approved in 2015.

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