Net Neutrality MIGHT Be Saved - But It's Not Over Yet

21 May 2018, 13:15

Protestors gather on Bolyston Street in front of a Verizon store during a Net neutrality rally on December 7, 2017
RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images. Picture: RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images
Benedict Townsend

By Benedict Townsend

It's two steps forward, one step back

The battle to save net neutrality continues. For an easy guide on what net neutrality is, and why it is so vitally important, check out our quick and simple guide to the issue right here.

As you may know, the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) voted to undo net neutrality back in 2017, a decision that has dramatic and terrible implications for not just the US, but for the internet as a whole.

Protestors Rally At FCC Against Repeal Of Net Neutrality Rules
Protestors Rally At FCC Against Repeal Of Net Neutrality Rules. Picture: (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

What has happened now?

The US has voted, by a narrow majority, to overturn the decision made by the FCC. All 49 Democrats voted in favour of keeping net neutrality, and they were joined by three Republicans - Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Kennedy of Louisiana, which meant there were just enough votes for it to pass (the Republicans hold a narrow majority in the Senate).

The Democrats used a law called 'the Congressional Review Act' to force a vote on the issue. This law means that Congress can reverse decisions made by the FCC using a simple vote, which sidesteps a lot of the usual blocks and obstacles that Senate leaders can use to prevent issues being voted on. Republicans have so far voted almost entirely in unity with the FCC, most likely out of party loyalty to the President, who was in favour of repealing net neutrality.

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But things are far from over

The vote now moves to the House Of Representatives, where the chances of it passing are exceptionally low.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote that: "The House Republicans don't have to choose the same path that the vast majority of Senate Republicans in the Senate chose... the American people have spoken and the American people should listen."

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at Net Neutrality hearing
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at Net Neutrality hearing. Picture: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images