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US Senate sends warning shot over net neutrality repeal

Joint IIC - Italian Chapter and Agcom workshop

The US Senate has voted 52-47 to disapprove the FCC’s recent order replacing 2015’s net neutrality rules, “a pleasant surprise for internet advocates and consumers throughout the country”, reports TechCrunch. “Although the disapproval will almost certainly not lead to the new rules being undone, it is a powerful statement of solidarity with a constituency activated against this deeply unpopular order. To be clear, the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom is still set to take effect in June.” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel commended the Senate’s action. “Today the United States Senate took a big step to fix the serious mess the FCC made when it rolled back net neutrality late last year,” she said in a statement. “The vote is a sign that the fight for internet freedom is far from over. I’ll keep raising a ruckus to support net neutrality and I hope others will too.” Chairman Ajit Pai, however, was less congratulatory in his own statement. “It’s disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin,” he said, “But ultimately, I’m confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the internet will fail.” Both he and commissioner Brendan Carr cited a “three-Pinocchio” fact-check in the Washington Post of Democratic claims regarding net neutrality, but TechCrunch comments that while “that’s a good guide to avoiding the hysteria occasionally encountered in this debate it provides precious little support for Restoring Internet Freedom, which is itself plagued by technical misunderstandings”. Former FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, has welcomed the Senate vote. Speaking to Journalist’s Resource, he said the vote is significant as it wasn’t voted only on party lines. “Remember that the Republicans control the Senate. So this issue, which has historically been Democrats on one side and Republicans on another, today became a bipartisan issue… The reality is that four companies – Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and Charter – control 72% of all the homes in America for broadband. And 75% of all the homes in America have only one choice, at most, as to where they get internet service... So the real issue here is this: Are we going to allow the internet to be cable-ised? An open internet gives the consumers choices over where they want to go on the internet and gives those who are creative innovative services open access to any consumer without a gatekeeper. And the goal of the four powerful companies is to become a gatekeeper so that they can discriminate and charge you more or charge the internet service more.” See more and here.

  • Monday, 21 May 2018

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