Preserving Net Neutrality

In the week since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality, many people have spoken out against the decision, citing fears of what may follow. Lawmakers and politicians have announced plans to sue the FCC, and some have proposed their own bills to preserve the regulations.

On December 15, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stepped forward with his own plan to keep net neutrality in place.

Schumer intends to force a vote on a net neutrality bill that, if passed, would overturn the FCC's ruling. The plan is made possible by the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which enables Congress to reverse agency rules so long as the reversal has majority approval in the House and Senate.

“One, this CRA doesn’t need the support of the majority leader. We can bring it to the floor and force a vote, so there will be a vote to repeal the rule that the FCC passed," Schumer said at a WeWork's press conference, according to a report by The Hill.

“It’s in our power to do that and that’s the beauty of the CRA rule," he added. "Sometimes we don’t like them, when they used it to repeal some of the pro-environmental regulations, but now we can use the CRA to our benefit, and we intend to.”

Against the Odds

Despite the efforts of Schumer to get the bill in front of Congress, getting it passed will be no easy task. Republicans outnumber Democrats 239 to 193 in the House of Representatives and 51 to 49 in the Senate (once Doug Jones is sworn in in January), and the vote could be split down the party line.

However, several Republican senators, such as Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), have spoken out against the repeal of net neutrality, and House Telecom Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) has introduced her own net neutrality bill, though it has weaker standards than the just-repealed rules.

Still, President Trump could veto any new net neutrality bill that does pass both the House and Senate.

Net neutrality effectively protected consumers and kept things fair online. Without it, internet users and companies in the U.S. could be subjected to the same conditions that currently exist in Portugal, where people often need to pay for additional data, as well as buy packages based on the apps they want to use.

Beyond increasing costs, internet service providers (ISPs) could also block sites simply because they compete with their other businesses.

Needless to say, the way we currently use the internet could become a thing of the past if nothing is done to stop the repeal of net neutrality or pass legislation to the same effect.

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