The Senate voted Wednesday to overturn an action by the Federal Communications Commission that’s slated to end net neutrality next month.
The 52-47 vote is just the latest in a complicated string of events surrounding net neutrality rules over the past several years. And while net neutrality advocates cheered the vote, the measure’s fate in the House appears uncertain. Even if the House did back the Senate vote, President Trump is unlikely to sign the resolution since he supported the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality.
Here’s what consumers need to know.
Under net neutrality, all internet traffic is transmitted to consumers the same way, regardless of whether an internet service provider has a financial interest in one content provider or another. Without net neutrality, advocates say ISPs could favor certain content providers, which in turn could affect consumers’ choices online.
Net neutrality was mandated by FCC regulations starting in 2015. But in December 2017, the FCC under new leadership voted to overturn those rules, while also restricting the agency’s authority to regulate ISPs in the future.
Those rules haven’t gone into effect yet, but are scheduled to do so in June.
What the Senate did was to apply a law called the Congressional Review Act that gives legislators a process for rolling back rules created by regulatory agencies.
Advocates of net neutrality rules applauded the outcome of the vote.
“Today’s vote is a turning point in the fight for the future of the internet,” says Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “Restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules would ensure that the internet remains the open and level field we’ve come to know and value.”
The FCC defended its rollback of net neutrality regulations. The agency is “cutting billions of dollars worth of red tape,” Brendan Carr, one of the agency’s five commissioners, said in a statement Wednesday. Carr characterized arguments in favor of net neutrality as “multi-Pinocchio claims about the end of the internet.”