The Senate voted this afternoon to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Republican-led rollback of Obama-era net neutrality rules. But before you break out the champagne, realize that the House of Representatives is unlikely to take up the measure and join the Senate.
Accordingly, the vote will likely become a mid-term campaign issue for Democrats. Multiple surveys show widespread popular support for net neutrality and opposition to the FCC rollback. Some polls show nearly 90 percent against the FCC’s recent decision.
The Senate vote was 52 to 47, with three Republican senators joining all Democrats in voting to prevent telcos and ISPs from creating so-called fast lanes and blocking or favoring content. The vast majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives appear to support the current FCC position.
Net neutrality was passed in 2015. Its repeal this year was seen largely as a giveaway to big telcos and cable companies by the FCC, whose chairman, Ajit Pai, is former Verizon lawyer. Pai previously accused net neutrality supporters of being “hysterical” and openly mocked them.
Past bad behavior from ISPs argues the concerns raised by supporters of net neutrality are far from hysterical. Should the rollback actually happen, the internet will probably look a lot more like cable TV, with content bundles and “premium” packages.
Independent of the Senate action today, several states, including Washington, Oregon, California and New York, have either proposed net neutrality-like legislation or sought to take legal action to nullify the FCC repeal.