Net neutrality has been a hot button topic for years. A few weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rescinded the Obama-era net neutrality rules in a 3-t0-2 vote. Worried about the consequences of this repeal, Senate Democrats fought back.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers must treat all data on the internet equally. Providers cannot discriminate or modify prices depending on users, content, website, platform, or application. More specifically, internet service providers should not intentionally block, slow down, or charge money for specific websites and online content.
After the FCC repealed net neutrality, Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a petition to appeal the FCC’s decision. Shortly thereafter, Senate Democrats announced they had the votes to approve legislation to overturn the FCC’s vote. “Allowing powerful special interests to act as the internet’s gatekeepers harms consumers, innovation, and small businesses,” Ferguson said in a press release. “We believe the FCC acted unlawfully when it gutted net neutrality, and I look forward to holding the FCC accountable to the rule of law.”
In an article by The Columbian, Ferguson and his Attorney General counterparts allege the FCC decision violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the federal agency rulemaking process. “Protecting net neutrality is as critical as protecting free speech,” Governor Jay Inslee said in a press release. “The FCC’s attack on the open internet is bad for Washingtonians, bad for business, and a major step backward. I’m glad that Washington is leading the fight against the FCC’s kowtow to corporate lobbyists and continuing the fight for net neutrality.”
The Senate is on board with Ferguson. The entire Senate Democratic caucus is co-sponsoring a bill to reverse the FCC’s vote. Similarly, many Republican Senators have pledged their support (currently only one more Republican vote is needed to get this passed in the Senate). This reversal is possible because of the Congressional Review Act, which allows federal lawmakers to overturn decisions made by the the agency within 60 days. However, a majority vote in both houses is required.
The topic of net neutrality will likely be a midterm campaign issue. It still needs to pass in the House (currently help by the Republicans) and requires a signature from President Trump.