The battle over net neutrality is expected to come to a head today, as Senate Democrats force a vote on a proposal to restore the FCC’s open Internet rules.
It’s far from a sure thing that net neutrality proponents will get what they want from the vote, but even if they do, the road ahead is likely to be a rocky one. Lawmakers seem unlikely to reverse the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to end Obama-era policy, even as major Websites and major companies, including Google and Facebook, go on “red alert” to spur users to voice their support for an open internet.
All 49 Senate Democrats appear set to vote for the resolution, as does Republican Susan Collins of Maine. Should it pass the Senate, the resolution would move to the House. Should it somehow clear that hurdle, it will require the signature of President Trump, who has previously shown an inclination to toss the rules out.
Social media was full of supporters (some high profile, some less so, but no less passionate) for the Senate bill to pass.
Experts argue the repeal of net neutrality would be harmful to consumers. Joseph Tomain, visiting lecturer and senior fellow in the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said the repeal could impact individuals’ freedom of expression, as ISPs could have control over what content could be accessed. Additionally, he explained, ending net neutrality would have a negative impact on the digital economy, as ISPs could interfere with the operations of companies that depend on online sales.
As of now, net neutrality is set to expire on June 10, according to a recently issued notice by the Federal Communications Commission. Several states, including Washington, Oregon, and California, expecting the FCC’s termination of the act to move forward, are proposing—and passing—net neutrality laws of their own, setting them up for a showdown with the government.