Senate Democrats launched a drive Wednesday to force a vote that could restore Obama-era "net neutrality" rules for the internet, looking to overturn the Trump administration's decision a year ago to revoke the rules.
At its core, net neutrality regulations prohibit internet service providers from engaging in "unfair" practices, including blocking websites, throttling traffic and engaging in paid prioritization, or when an internet provider favors one of site over a competitor's or offers better access to companies that pay for it. Pai could have allowed the primary portions of the repeal to take effect earlier, but he chose to wait for the OMB to sign off on a new version of the transparency rules that require ISPs to publicly disclose network management practices. If the CRA passes in the Senate, it will still need to clear the House and receive President Donald Trump's signature before it would overturn the FCC's decision. "I believe today kicks off the most important week for the internet that the Senate has ever seen".
Meaning companies should not be able to block or degrade access to websites like Youtube or Netflix, in order to encourage the user to use a different video-streaming service. In 2015, stricter network neutrality rules were approved.
Senate Democrats cited a poll by the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation that found 86 percent of respondents opposed repealing net neutrality rules after a short briefing on them. Ending net neutrality, they say, could also force consumers to pay more for slower Internet service.
"The Internet wasn't broken in 2015, when the prior FCC buckled to political pressure and imposed heavy-handed Title II rules on the Internet economy", Pai said in a statement Thursday. Facebook was available for anyone with computer and internet. Announced Thursday morning, May 10, the Obama-era regulations that ensured an open internet are now set to end on June 11, 2018.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has been fighting all along to keep net neutrality in place.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has often said he is confident the agency's order will be upheld.
Web users decried the move when the FCC considered it late past year, accusing telecommunications companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast of trying to monopolize the internet and imposing a pay-to-play system on the web, which critics argued should instead operate as an open marketplace of ideas. Some of them have called on Congress to address net neutrality with legislation. San Francisco officials' proposal to build a community-broadband infrastructure and then lease it to multiple providers to promote consumer choice is closer to EFF's organizational preference. Other states are following suit, but a patchwork system is spotty and inadequate.