Date
22 May 2018
The internet should be treated like a public good and there should be no discrimination with regard to access, says US Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Reuters
The internet should be treated like a public good and there should be no discrimination with regard to access, says US Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Reuters

US Senate approves bill in bid to retain net neutrality

The US Senate voted on Wednesday in favor of keeping open-internet rules in a bid to overturn a Federal Communications Commission decision to repeal the net neutrality regime, Reuters reports.

The 52 to 47 vote margin in the Senate was larger than expected with three Republicans — John Kennedy, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins — voting with 47 Democrats and two independents to reverse the Trump administration’s action, the report said.

Democrats used a law that allows Congress to reverse regulatory actions by a simple majority vote but it is not clear if the US House of Representatives will vote at all on the measure.

The FCC in December repealed rules set under Democratic President Barack Obama that barred internet service providers from blocking or slowing access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.

Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, said he will launch an effort on Thursday to try to force a House vote. Democrats will try to make it a campaign issue if Republicans will not allow a vote, he said.

“Let’s treat the internet like the public good that it is. We don’t let water companies or phone companies discriminate against customers; we don’t restrict access to interstate highways, saying you can ride on the highway, and you can’t,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.

“We shouldn’t do that with the internet either.”

The 2015 rules were intended to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to Web content and bar broadband service providers from favoring their own material over that of others.

The new December 2017 rules require internet providers to tell consumers whether they will block or slow content or offer paid “fast lanes.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the Wednesday’s vote disappointing but added that “ultimately, I’m confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail.”

Pai said his approach “will deliver better, faster, and cheaper Internet access and more broadband competition to the American people.”

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CG/RC

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