Senate Overturns FCC Net Neutrality Ruling

WASHINGTON%2C+DC+-+MAY+09%3A++Sen.+Richard+Blumenthal+%28D-CT%29+speaks+during+a+news+conference+on+a+petition+to+force+a+vote+on+net+neutrality+on+Capitol+Hill+in+Washington%2C+DC.++Also+pictured+are+Sen.+Maria+Cantwell+%28D-WA%29+and+Sen.+Ed+Markey+%28D-MA%29.++%28Photo+by+Zach+Gibson%2FGetty+Images%29
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Senate Overturns FCC Net Neutrality Ruling

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09:  Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a news conference on a petition to force a vote on net neutrality on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  Also pictured are Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).  (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a news conference on a petition to force a vote on net neutrality on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Also pictured are Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a news conference on a petition to force a vote on net neutrality on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Also pictured are Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a news conference on a petition to force a vote on net neutrality on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Also pictured are Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Sarah Wang, Staff Writer

In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) surprised a majority of the nation when it voted to repeal net neutrality. The issue of net neutrality, a set of policies implemented during the Obama administration that prohibits broadband providers from enforcing “pay-to-play” access, had been raised and repealed by the FCC prior to the December decision, only to be deliberated upon and rejected by the Senate later on. History has repeated itself.

On May 16, the Senate voted 52-47 to nullify the FCC’s net neutrality ruling. Led by the Democrats, the Senate made the symbolic decision to condemn the FCC rollback, which is notoriously championed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The decision aligns with the concerns of a majority of the American people, many of whom are worried that they will be charged unreasonable prices for high-quality service and access to the necessary websites that have become a way of life. Many senators echo similar sentiments, such as Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) who declared, “Today we show the American people who sides with them and who sides with the powerful special interests and corporate donors who are thriving under this administration.”

 

However, the Senate’s predicament is largely symbolic. Because the House does not plan to carry on the action, the FCC will likely be able to continue its repeal of the Obama-era internet policies. In fact, the FCC’s plan still remains on track to take effect in June.

Regardless of the result, net neutrality has become a dominantly partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike have raised the cause as an arguing point for the upcoming November election. On one hand, Republicans overwhelmingly reject net neutrality because they want to “shift regulatory power away from the federal government and toward the private market,” NPR notes. Many, like Virginia’s Rep. Scott Taylor, argue that “eliminating [net neutrality] will expand competition and consumer choice.” Conversely, the Democrats fall more in line with the concerns of the public — that Internet service providers will push for skyrocketing costs and low-quality service. “The grandparents, the gamers, the gearheads, the geeks, the GIF-makers, the Generations X, Y, and Z. This movement to save net neutrality is made up of every walk of American life,” Markey finished.

Clearly, there is no definite solution in sight. Nevertheless, Americans will simply have to wait until June 11 to see the fate of net neutrality.

Graphic courtesy of ARSTECHNICA.COM