Under the guise of protecting a “free and open internet,” the United States Senate voted to reverse a decision by the Federal Communications Commission to repeal Obama-era net neutrality internet regulations. This is in direct service to crony capitalist special interests.
During the Obama administration, the FCC attempted to use the 1934 Communications Act to regulate the internet by declaring it a public utility. So-called “net neutrality” was an attempt by the government to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from charging different prices to different websites and from selectively slowing down or speeding up connection speeds for certain sites. This anti-free market regulation problematically favored large established websites over smaller competitors, permitting companies like Netflix and YouTube to suck up internet bandwidth without paying a price in proportion to their size. Smaller video-streaming services would effectively subsidize their larger competitors because they would be forced to pay the same price even though they use less bandwidth, giving larger corporations with more money a competitive advantage.
Additionally, it is absurd that a law passed in the 1930s can give the government power over the modern technological marvel of the internet. Interpreting the law as Obama’s FCC had done opens the door to many more regulations passed by the FCC to permit the government to police the internet.
For these reasons, the Trump administration FCC reversed the Obama-era net neutrality rules. But Senate Democrats, joined by some Republicans, forced a vote on a Congressional Review Act resolution to undo the FCC’s repeal and reinstate net neutrality, in spite of the fact that the internet has operated freely without issue for nearly two decades without government regulation.
The Senate passed the resolution reinstating net neutrality on May 16, 2018, at 3:21 p.m. in a roll call vote of 52 – 47.
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Conservative position: NO
Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Van Hollen (D-MD)