Hey, net neutrality fans. Don’t give up hope yet.
Defeating the Trump administration in a GOP-controlled Congress isn’t easy. But net neutrality warrior Senator Ed Markey is showing how it can be done.
Markey gathered enough votes in the Senate to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to end Obama-era net neutrality rules. Those rules, now due to expire on June 11, prevent big telecoms from creating Internet “fast lanes” for companies willing to pay the tolls.
Software firms in Markey’s home state have his back. About 40 top executives from Massachusetts companies including Zipcar, Carbonite, MathWorks, and Rapid7 signed a letter this month supporting Markey’s effort to preserve what they call “a free and open Internet.”
Markey drew three Republicans to the cause, starting with Susan Collins of Maine, giving him the votes he needed in the Senate today. The fight moves to the House, where Democratic Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania is rounding up votes. He has 160, but will need nearly another 60. (And it’s worth noting that a presidential veto could end the revolt.)
Markey says momentum is on his side. Plus, a number of state attorneys general, advocacy groups, and tech firms are trying to overturn the FCC decision in court.
FCC chief (and former Verizon lawyer) Ajit Pai and other net neutrality opponents say killing the Internet rules will encourage broadband giants to invest more in their systems, bringing better connectivity to all. They say Markey’s crusade is more about politics, in a midterm election year, than what’s good for consumers.
Of course it’s about politics. But polling shows widespread public support for net neutrality. That’s something to think about for House members who are up for reelection in November.Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.