Battle against net neutrality rollback intensifies

Gladys Abbott
January 18, 2018

50 senators ready to repeal All 49 Democrats plus Republican Senator Susan Collins of ME support a rollback of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's December decision to overturn net neutrality rules.

Net neutrality rules barred companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai led the push of repealing the law, which protects consumers from companies blocking or slowing down websites, or charging an additional fee for access. "The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers - allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online", he said. Others may file suit as well, and a major tech-industry lobbying group has said it will support litigation. The rollback of net neutrality regulations, depending on whom you listen to, is either the death of the internet as we know it or the unleashing of a new era of innovation and growth. "It has connected Virginians to jobs, opportunities, and experiences that would have previously been off limits", said Attorney General Herring.

Last month, the commission voted 3-2 along party lines to kill net neutrality, officially known as the Open Internet Order. Bob Corker said he does not support efforts to overturn the recent ruling.

Commentators point out that even if Democrats were to win a majority in the senate, a repeal would also require winning a vote in the House of Representatives, where Republicans are in greater majority, and would still be subject to a likely veto by president Donald Trump.

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In a statement emailed to FierceHealthcare shortly after the FCC's vote, Doctor on Demand CEO Hill Ferguson expressed concern that the net neturality repeal "could threaten that access for many Americans, especially those in areas where quality healthcare is already hard to come by". Senate Democrats are now calling for one more Republican to join their cause.

The FCC order bars states and cities from imposing rules on broadband providers that contradict the FCC's plan.

On top of filing the suit, Mozilla is also urging Congress and the courts to fix the broken policies surrounding the open internet and net neutrality.

Although there is new grassroots support for net neutrality bills within state halls across the country, legislation will still be met with obstacles. As of last week, according to The Hill, California, Washington, New York, Rhode Island, Nebraska and MA have all introduced net neutrality bills in their state legislatures.

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