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Public Policy 12 January 2018

New Developments in the Net Neutrality Debate

Mark Buell
By Mark BuellChief Regional Bureau Director, North America

Democrats in the USA haven’t given up on net neutrality since the FCC voted to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order in December.

Senator Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has put forward a bill that would use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision. The CRA allows lawmakers 60 legislative days after the FCC submits its regulations to Congress to take action.

That bill now has the support of more than 40 Senators, including Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), its first Republican supporter.

Senator Markey needs 52 votes to get the bill passed in the Senate, which is unlikely given that Republicans remain in control of both chambers of Congress. Nevertheless, Democrats see value in forcing a vote on the bill ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Polls indicate that 83 per cent of Americans support keeping the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

If the bill fails to move forward, Congress may pursue a legislative solution – a bill that would codify net neutrality rules into law, rather than a reversal of the FCC’s decision. In fact, the Republicans are possibly signaling an appetite to come to a legislative solution to this issue. Regardless of the legal mechanism employed to achieve net neutrality, the Internet Society believes it is imperative to ensure that Internet users should be able to access the content and services they choose without corporate or government interference.

Image credit: Jomar Thomas on Unsplash

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