While it probably doesn’t matter given the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate voted 52-47 today to reinstate “net neutrality” regulations that keep service providers from deciding what you can and can’t access on the internet.
Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Kennedy of Louisiana joined their Democratic colleagues to vote for the bill to overturn the FCC’s ruling earlier this year. The House, however, is expected to vote against the bill, given that Democrats would have to persuade 25 Republicans to act in the interests of the majority of Americans who hate the FCC’s ruling.
Ajit Pai, the former Verizon lawyer who was appointed by President Trump to emasculate the FCC, was not happy, saying Democrats were using “scare tactics,” The Hill reported.
If like many people you’re unsure what “net neutrality” means in your life, Wired explains it. Here’s part of that explanation:
NET NEUTRALITY IS the idea that internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon should treat all content flowing through their cables and cell towers equally. That means they shouldn’t be able to slide some data into “fast lanes” while blocking or otherwise discriminating against other material. In other words, these companies shouldn’t be able to block you from accessing a service like Skype, or slow down Netflix or Hulu, in order to encourage you to keep your cable package or buy a different video-streaming service. …
Net neutrality advocates have long argued that keeping the internet an open playing field is crucial for innovation. If broadband providers pick favorites online, new companies and technologies might never have the chance to grow. For example, had internet providers blocked or severely limited video streaming in the mid-2000s, we might not have Netflix or YouTube today. Other advocates highlight the importance of net neutrality to free expression: a handful of large telecommunications companies dominate the broadband market, which puts an enormous amount of power into their hands to suppress particular views or limit online speech to those who can pay the most.
Most large broadband providers promised not to block or throttle content ahead of the ruling, and the FCC argues that traditional antitrust laws will stop providers from hobbling their competitors. But net neutrality advocates worry that we’ll soon see fast lanes appearing on the internet. A broadband provider might, for example, allow some companies to pay for priority treatment on broadband networks. The fear is that, over time, companies and organizations that either can’t afford priority treatment, or simply aren’t offered access to it, will fall by the wayside.