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May 17 2018

3 Things to Know About the Senate Vote on Net Neutrality

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

Yesterday, the Senate voted to keep regulations in place on the internet. Contrary to the rhetoric, this doesn't mean that the internet will be any more free and open. In fact, just as you accessed the internet yesterday to scour updates from family on Facebook, shop on Amazon, and Google websites, you will still be able to do all of that. 

Net neutrality rules were implemented under the Obama Administration as a means to police internet providers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assumed the authority to regulate how broadband companies supply internet access such as charging differently for faster service

These rules were a solution in search of a problem. The internet flourished free and open before these rules were implemented, but unfortunately, expansion of broadband suffered because of the added regulations.

The FCC, under the new leadership of chairman Ajit Pai, is reversing the Obama-era net neutrality rules despite harsh criticism from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, and even death threats.

Senate Democrats held a vote yesterday to stop the FCC's reversal of net neutrality rules, but here are 3 things you should know:

  1. The Senate vote doesn't mean much – All 49 Democrats plus three Republicans voted to reinstate net neutrality rules. Howeverthis effort is unlikely to pass the House. They would need two dozen House Republicans to support it and members in the House are already working on a different version of net neutrality. In addition, President Trump is unlikely to sign it as he supports net neutrality repeal.

  2. Net neutrality rules will be replaced by "lighter-touch regulations" - not no regulation - Replacement rules, which go into effect next month, take a lighter-touch approach to internet regulations. It shifts enforcement of consumer protections of broadband services to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where it belongs. There are also requirements that internet service providers disclose behaviors such as blocking, throttling or prioritization of their own content or content from their partners.

  3. Net neutrality is really just a tool to boost Democratic turnout for the midterms – The motivation behind yesterday's vote was partisan politics. This issue has been identified as a grassroots motivator for millennial votersLiberals are using this vote to whip up support among young voters and get conservatives on the record as being in opposition to the concept. 

The internet was free and open before the 2015 net neutrality rules. We didn't need Washington to regulate companies for the internet to develop and flourish into what it is today. There is little evidence of wrongdoing, such as anti-competitive behavior, that warranted the added regulations.

Reversing net neutrality and replacing it with a light regulatory touch is the right step forward.

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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