Activists Make One Last Push To Restore Net Neutrality Via Congressional Review Act

from the one-more-time-around dept

Efforts to reverse the FCC’s historically unpopular attack on net neutrality using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) have been stuck in neutral for several months, but activists are backing one last push in a bid to get the uphill effort over the hump.

The CRA lets Congress reverse a regulatory action with a simple majority vote in the Senate and the House (which is how the GOP successfully killed broadband consumer privacy protections last year). And while the Senate voted 52 to 47 back in May to reverse the FCC’s attack on net neutrality, companion efforts to set up a similar vote in the House haven’t gained much traction as the clock continues to tick. A discharge petition needs 218 votes to even see floor time, and another 218 votes to pass the measure.

But the needed votes have lingered at around 172 for months, split (quite stupidly, given broad public support) along strict partisan lines.

Hoping to push the effort over the line and drum up the needed votes ahead of the December 10 CRA deadline, net neutrality activist groups like Fight for the Future are holding one last online protest on Thursday, November 29. This time around they’ve drummed up the support of numerous musicians and celebrities in the hope of getting the attention of a public that’s clearly weary of the entire debate:

“The effort is backed by musicians and celebrities like Hollywood star Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and the Wasp, The Hobbit, Lost), Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, and EDM star Bassnectar, along with startups and major web companies like online selling platform Etsy, delivery service Postmates, publishing platform Tumblr, Private Internet Access VPN, popular blog BoingBoing, domain registrar Namecheap, search engine StartPage, and speaker company Sonos.”

The problem, of course, is that all the public screaming in the world has yet to shift the thinking of well-lobbied net neutrality opponents in Congress, and adding Tom Morello or Sonos to the proceedings, while appreciated and notable, isn’t likely to move the needle much. Even if the vote succeeds, it still would have to avoid a veto by Trump. And while activists I’ve spoken to have argued that a House vote could appeal to Trump’s “populist” side and pressure him to let the restoration ride through, that’s simply not very likely.

That said, it was worth trying as a hail Mary pass anyway, and there’s absolute value in both naming and shaming corrupt lawmakers, something Fight For the Future has toyed with via crowdfunded billboards. There’s also value in keeping the issue in the public headspace ahead of next year’s Congressional battles. Still, users looking to this effort to actually restore the FCC’s rules should probably temper their enthusiasm. Our existing Congress has made its disdain for the public interest abundantly clear, and the real fight for net neutrality is next year.

The best chance at saving net neutrality rests with next year’s net neutrality court battle, the opening arguments for which begin next February. It’s there that a handful of companies like Mozilla, and 23 state attorneys general, will make their case that the FCC ignored the public and violated the Administrative Procedure Act in aggressively dismantling popular consumer protections, while basing their entire justification for the repeal on telecom industry lobbying bullshit.

Should the FCC lose that lawsuit, the agency’s 2015 rules would be restored — though Ajit Pai’s FCC isn’t likely to enforce them during his tenure (however long it lasts). Should the FCC and its ISP BFFs win that case, they still need to find a way to prevent a future FCC or Congress from passing net neutrality rules (or laws) with real teeth. That’s why companies like AT&T have been pushing loyal foot soldiers like Marsha Blackburn to table loophole-filled, fake net neutrality legislation with only one real purpose: preempting tougher state or federal rules.

But with a shifting Congressional makeup, and net neutrality supporters in Congress not eager to anger activists by signing garbage legislation, that gambit isn’t likely to succeed. The net result: like privacy, we’re going to need to have a real conversation about what a realnet neutrality law might look like. And it’s going to require a Sisyphean effort to prevent countless industries and their loyal political foot soldiers (with a vested interest in uneven playing fields and turf protection) from polluting the entire process.

While many are fatigued by the entire net neutrality fight, it’s worth remembering that net neutrality doesn’t just live or die based on the passage or restoration of rules or laws. It’s a never-ending fight that will continue for however long the broadband industry maintains a stranglehold on meaningful competition. Given telco upgrade apathy, 5G’s overhype as a competitive panacea, a growing cable monopoly over next-gen speeds, and Pai-era regulatory apathy, that’s a problem that’s not going away anytime soon.

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Comments on “Activists Make One Last Push To Restore Net Neutrality Via Congressional Review Act”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Use the power, correctly, but what is correct?

Methinks there needs to be a better definition of ‘online protest’. I know it worked for SOPA, but that involved a lot of platforms. I am not sure this one will, though it is to their advantage as well. We are also at the disavantage as the midterm elections have already passed. Timing could have been better.

Some suggestions about how to contact your Congressional representatives. In the subject line include whether you are or are not a constituent, and whether you are for or against whatever the protest is about. In the body, give them your reasons why. Also let them know that you vote.

And don’t leave the protest to just your legislators. Contact your favorite websites and ask them to paricipate as well, and not just on their homepage as I suspect that platforms like Facebook (for example, I don’t know for sure as I don’t use them) the home page is not where people bookmark to. Their protest must span all of their pages.

For companies like Google, who don’t have good ways to contact them, make sure you express your concerns, and their relationship to those entities, verbosely every place you can. For Google, the spiders will pick up the comments, whether anyone there reads those results is another matter.

Any other suggestions?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Use the power, correctly, but what is correct?

No reason Amazon shouldn’t be for net neutrality, nor is there a reason that I can think of why they shouldn’t participate in an online protest. It could be a big impact, except that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now over, and if the protest had been timed better, such a much bigger impact. Amazon could have just presented a screen with quick basic information before the requested page is shown which also contained links with more detailed information. Some would have objected, but many, many, many more would have been informed.

Could they really be hurt by those that are against net neutrality? Well maybe, in their online data storage component and the uses made of that, but then they wouldn’t be the ones hurt. Their customers would.

Not just bandwidth restrictions (low resolution video), but data caps (how many videos can you see in a month) are in question with this. And those are just the most simplistic, general, consumer related examples. The implications are much more wide spread.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Use the power, correctly, but what is correct?

bandwidth restrictions (low resolution video), but data caps (how many videos can you see in a month)

thats easy..
Family of 4..
2 tablet, 3 roku, 2-4 phones, and a computer..
CONSTANT on at least 1 device per month.. and even shown them the problems.. with 150mbps.. 1080 60fps takes allot of bandwidth from youtube, not counting netflix, and other sources from roku..

K`Tetch (profile) says:

for those that want a bit more background

A lot of people still don’t understand what net neutrality is and why it’s important though.

I still see people going on about ‘government takeover’, or ‘what about facebook and google’, but my biggest peeve is those that think this is only a ‘since 2015’ thing.

it’s not, and it’s a ‘since 1956’ thing, when the basis was established in the hush-a-phone case, where hte Supreme Court said that phone companies couldn’t dictate how you used the equipment connected to the line, and reiterated in 1968 with the carterfone decision where they said they can’t control the data sent over the line or its source, as long as it doesn’t harm the line and uses it how it was intended.

Those two rulings litereally gave us dialup modems.

until June, over the last 50 years, we’ve had net neutrality rules in place for all but 9 months or so of that time. Should tell you something about how ‘harmful’ it is.

(for more details on the history, you can be bored with the talk I gave a few months back where I go over it in detail, with people from the EFF, AccessNow, and Public Knowledge here

ECA (profile) says:


we are no longer a democracy..
AS LONG as our leaders/those hired by you and me..Dont do as we say/want/need for the betterment of our society..

If these forces remove regulations placed by previous Leaders FOR JUST said reasoning…Yes these things happened before..

Any idea why the internet Sales are so good? its the ONLY competition most corps have..

Regulations are the same things WE live by called laws.. they Hold them in place so that tings dont INFLATE to fast and without safe guards to protect US..

Laws that removed the reg’s from banking just CAUSED…You and me the problem of paying the BANKS.. for something they Should not have done, the Way it was done..

How much do you want to pay for Phone/cellphone/cable TV/Sat TV/Internet…and still get CRAP signals..
Without the reg’s they can do anything they want..

John Smith says:

Re: Re: Re:

Pirates who refuse to recognize the value of hard work, naturally get angry when copyright holders pay and lobby for the laws we deserve. The difference is we wilingly go for the results we want no matter the cost. Eventually you get used to going doen on your knees. The truly hardworking ones evem enjoy it. Not that I would expect freeloadres to understand.

Sopa lost because Masnick got his lawyer buddies to bribe Google. No such luck this time. Net neutrality died, and when Shiva is done with Masnick’s pretty boy ass, so is this apologist site. And then the police and courts will cpme for each and every one of you who dared to make fun ofme.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Pirates who refuse to recognize the value of hard work, naturally get angry when copyright holders pay and lobby for the laws we deserve. “

What hard work.?
most sell their idea to corps for a 1 time fee or royalties..
The Corps even WAIT for the person to die, then buyout the copyrights from the family,, or JUST steal it from the Public domain like the Creator of PKZIP..

If you are rich enough to create a Prototype, multiple times, at the COST of materials in the USA…I suggest you invest in Rodium..about once in 10 years the price Jump 10 times..
We went from a skein of cheap yarn for 4/$1 to $3 per…and no sale price.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Sometime someone else posts as John Smith and they might be being sarcastic. But when the ‘real John Smith’ posts (said with tongue in cheek as he is not Pocahontas’s husband), it is evident. Surprisingly, he is not smart enough to go out and create an email address that he will never read or respond to and use that the create a Techdirt account so that others might not be able to spoof him. Either way, flag and move on when the name appears. No need to read the post. They are all bullshit.

John Smith says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Wow, Masnick. The mouths on your rabid attack dogs never cwases to amaze.

I don’t create accounts because I’m not justfying myself to Mikey’s band of thieves. You want to track my messages to shout me down and undermine my crdibility. I refuse to give you satisfaction.

You’ll just have to accept me mocking you and investigating you for libel and projection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 You shoulda checked yourself...

Hey rumpled foreskin, I object to you being a mouth breathing lunatic. But here we are. I also object to your complete lack of understanding for how copyright law in general and Section 230 works. Because we all know you don’t have the cojones to do shit about it except whine and claim Mikes techno-cyber-wizard-barristers hacked the Gibson or whatever else froths out of your pig-hole today.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Pirates who refuse to recognize the value of hard work, naturally get angry when copyright holders pay and lobby for the laws we deserve.

You do realize that we are ALL copyright holders, right?

Anybody in the US who has ever written anything, taken a picture of something, drawn a doodle on napkin, etc. since 1978 is a copyright holder. Being a copyright holder isn’t some sort of special social class that grants you extra privileges above others.


…when Shiva is done with Masnick’s pretty boy ass, so is this apologist site

Lol. He didn’t get very far the first time. He was almost laughed out of the courtroom. What makes you think the appeal will be different?

nasch (profile) says:


That’s why companies like AT&T have been pushing loyal foot soldiers like Marsha Blackburn to table loophole-filled, fake net neutrality legislation…

Apparently "table" means one thing in the UK and the exact opposite in the US:

"(Britain, Canada, New Zealand) To put on the agenda, to propose for discussion or consideration (from to put on the table).

The legislature tabled the amendment, so they will start discussing it now.

(US) To remove from the agenda, to postpone dealing with; to shelve (to indefinitely postpone consideration or discussion of something).

The legislature tabled the amendment, so they will not be discussing it until later.
The motion was tabled, ensuring that it would not be taken up until a later date.”

Since we’re talking US, "propose" would be a better word than "table".

GEMont (profile) says:

Legalized Bribery cancels Democracy

“The problem, of course, is that all the public screaming in the world has yet to shift the thinking of


net neutrality opponents in Congress…”

There, in a nutshell, is the real problem today, not just for Net Neutrality but for absolutely everything concerning law.

As long as its 100% legal for corporate crooks to buy politicians, and 100% legal for politicians to take bribes and do the bidding of their corporate benefactors by writing laws that help the crooks make more money and ending laws that interfere with the crooks’ methods of making more money, this thing can only get worse.

No matter what the public does, it will have far less effect than giving politicians wads of money has, and even when the public succeeds, it will only be a temporary success, undone once the crooks raise the amount of each politician’s “lobby”, or legal graft pay-outs.

End “lobby” payouts – legalized bribery – and you will go a long way towards making things right again.

As long as it is up to the politicians to decide whether to end legal graft or not, nothing will change. They will NEVER choose to end the lobby fountain that constitutes a second income for doing corporate favors.

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