Skip to Content

Tech Firms and Democrats Think They Can Still Save Net Neutrality. Here’s How Their Last-Ditch Attempt Would Work

The fight for net neutrality is entering overtime. With the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) still not having said when it will enact its rollback of the popular rule, Democrats and the tech community are making one last push to rescue it.

According to reports, senior Senate Democrats will on Wednesday try to force a vote on the FCC’s rule change, with the vote set to take place by the end of next week.

The move is backed by some of the biggest online names: Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Google, Etsy and Reddit. Some of those sites will urge their users to lobby their lawmakers to save net neutrality.

Net neutrality is a principle that states internet service providers have to treat all traffic fairly, without prioritizing some services over others or blocking or degrading those that don’t pay up. It was mandated by the FCC under President Obama in 2015, but the agency, now led by Trump appointee Ajit Pai, voted in December to repeal the rule.

However, the repeal won’t effectively take place until the U.S. Office of Management and Budget formally approves the FCC’s replacement rules, after which the FCC must give a timeline for the change to come into effect.

Some suggest the FCC is deliberately drawing out that process, possibly in order to draw up a new federal “net neutrality” law that favors Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast, while pre-empting tougher laws at the state level—something that’s already appearing in some states.

Whatever the reason for the delay, in the meantime there’s a potential window of opportunity to roll back the rollback in Congress. That’s what’s about to be attempted.

The Democrats apparently think they can narrowly carry the measure in the Senate. However, its passage in the House seems unlikely, and then there’s Trump and his veto to contend with.

It’s a long shot, for sure. But, as Democratic Senator Ed Markey has warned, the issue could prove to be a live wire in the upcoming midterms. “There’s a political day of reckoning coming against those who vote against net neutrality,” he said.

He may be right—Americans, unlike their representatives, are overwhelmingly in favor of net neutrality.

Meanwhile, many states’ chief prosecutors are also trying to get the U.S. Court of Appeals to review the FCC’s rollback. The merry band just lost its leader, though—New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned Monday after four women accused him of physical abuse.