Bill To Restore Net Neutrality Moves Forward, And The Public Is Still Pissed
from the the-will-of-the-people dept
A new bill that would fully restore the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules took a major step forward this week.
Earlier this month Democrats introduced the Save The Internet Act, a three page bill that would do one thing: restore the 2015 net neutrality rules stripped away by Ajit Pai, as well as restore the FCC’s authority over broadband providers. As we’ve long noted, the net neutrality repeal didn’t just kill net neutrality, it gutted FCC authority over natural broadband monopolies, shoveling any remaining authority to an FTC experts have repeatedly warned lacks the authority or resources to adequately police giants like Comcast (the entire point of the lobbyist gambit).
This week the bill was marked up and approved by the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, though not before the telecom industry tried to shovel in some amendments to water down the bill. Those efforts didn’t work, at least according to net neutrality activists, because of the attention ordinary folks kept on what would have otherwise been an ignored process if we were talking about any other tech-related markup effort:
“At one point nearly 40,000 people were simultaneously watching Fight for the Future?s mirror of the House.gov livestream, which crashed several times because so many Internet users were tuning in. The live counter eventually broke, but Vimeo showed that more than 300,000 had tuned in.”
300,000 viewers of a committee markup and vote is pretty damn impressive. As we’ve noted for a long time, surveys repeatedly show that the bipartisan majority of Americans supported net neutrality and opposed the repeal. The giant middle finger delivered by Ajit Pai is pretty clearly still pissing people off. And at least some lawmakers at the hearing this morning understand that ignoring this unified opposition isn’t a particularly bright idea with 2020 looming:
“Inside the beltway, this is really about maybe five companies,? Representative Anna Eshoo said during the hearing. ?Across the country, the American people really get this. National polling shows that Republicans, Democrats, Independents support net neutrality. We?re still in the same old soup pot here. We need to take our lenses off and look across the country.”
There are a lot of folks (including the telecom industry) that will continue to try and claim that net neutrality isn’t important. Those folks are usually either shoveling an agenda, or they don’t really understand that (as noted above) the repeal of net neutrality didn’t just kill net neutrality. It crushed the government’s ability to rein in natural telecom monopolies, already running amok thanks to decades of eroded antitrust enforcement and little real competition.
Granted the bill still has a long road ahead. While it may pass the House, it will have an uphill climb in the Senate, then needs to avoid a Trump veto. But even if it fails, the process will create a handy voter scorecard ahead of 2020 for those looking to see who actually supports the will of the public, and who couldn’t give any less of a shit. That in turn could aid efforts to pass a real net neutrality law down the road if this restoration effort — and the ongoing lawsuit to reverse the repeal (by Mozilla and 23 state AGs) — both fall flat on their face.