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17 Jan, 2018 02:01

Net neutrality revival may hinge on 1 vote in Senate

Net neutrality revival may hinge on 1 vote in Senate

A Democrat-backed Senate bill aimed at restoring net neutrality after a “misguided” repeal by the FCC only needs one vote from the GOP to pass. Meanwhile, 22 states have filed suit against the federal agency.

The measure introduced Tuesday by Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) would block the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) December repeal of net neutrality rules under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). And it already has the support of all 49 Democrats and one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, The Hill reported.

If the measure passes through the Senate with a 51-vote majority, it would then also need to pass the Republican-led US House of Representatives. If the bill passes there, the decision to either approve the measure, or veto it, would lie in the hands of President Donald Trump.

Under the Congressional Review Act, legislators have a 60-day window to pass the measure from the time the FCC repealed the regulations, which was on December 14 in a 3-2 vote. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai approved the measure to repeal rules that blocked internet service providers (ISP) in the US from offering customers paid fast lanes or throttling and blocking internet traffic. The rules had been set in 2015 under former President Barack Obama.

“There is a tsunami of Congressional and grassroots support to overturn the FCC’s partisan and misguided decision on net neutrality,” Markey said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) also spoke out in favor the new repeal measure, saying, “it’s clear that Democrats are committed to fighting to keep the internet from becoming the Wild West where ISPs are free to offer premium service to only the wealthiest customers while average consumers are left with far inferior options,”The Hill reported.

Nearly half of US states sue over net neutrality repeal

Attorneys general from 22 states, including New York and California, filed a lawsuit against the FCC Tuesday afternoon in the US District Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

“An open internet – and the free exchange of ideas it allows – is critical to our democratic process,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said in a statement. “The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers – allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) released a statement of his own in relation to the lawsuit.

READ MORE: How the FCC’s reversal of net neutrality may affect you

“Internet access is a utility – just like water and electricity,” he said. “And every consumer has a right to access online content without interference or manipulation by their internet service provider. However, in repealing the net neutrality rules, the FCC ignored consumers’ strong support for a free and open internet.”

The officials are being joined in the suit by consumer groups including Public Knowledge and web company Mozilla, The Hill reported.