Se­nate votes to re­vive ‘net neu­tral­ity’ rules

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - WEATHER DESK -

WASH­ING­TON — Se­nate Democrats, joined by three Repub­li­cans, pushed through a mea­sure Wed­nes­day in­tended to re­vive Obama-era in­ter­net rules that en­sured equal treat­ment for all web traf­fic, though op­po­si­tion in the House and the White House seems in­sur­mount­able.

Repub­li­cans on the short end of the 52-47 vote de­scribed the ef­fort to re­in­state “net neu­tral­ity” rules as “po­lit­i­cal the­ater” be­cause the GOP-con­trolled House is not ex­pected to take up the is­sue and the Se­nate’s mar­gin could not over­come a veto.

Democrats, how­ever, were un­de­terred, say­ing their push would en­er­gize young vot­ers who are tech savvy and value un­fet­tered ac­cess to the in­ter­net.

“This is a defin­ing vote. The most im­por­tant vote we’re go­ing to have in this gen­er­a­tion on the in­ter­net,” said Sen. Ed­ward Markey, D-Mass., who spon­sored the mea­sure.

At is­sue are rules that the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion re­pealed in De­cem­ber that pre­vented providers such as AT&T, Com­cast and Ver­i­zon from in­ter­fer­ing with in­ter­net traf­fic and fa­vor­ing their own sites and apps. Crit­ics, in­clud­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, said over­reg­u­la­tion was sti­fling in­no­va­tion, and they backed the FCC’s move, which still is set to take ef­fect next month.

Markey said net neu­tral­ity has worked for the small­est voices and the largest, but he said in­ter­net ser­vice providers are try­ing to change the rules to ben­e­fit their in­ter­ests.

Repub­li­cans said they were will­ing to work with Democrats on en­shrin­ing the prin­ci­ple of net neu­tral­ity in leg­is­la­tion. But they wanted also to en­sure that reg­u­la­tory ef­forts didn’t get in the way of in­no­va­tion and quickly evolv­ing in­ter­net ser­vices.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said the in­ter­net thrived long be­fore the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion stepped in with rules in 2015, and he pre­dicted that when the FCC re­peal is in place, con­sumers won’t no­tice a change in their ser­vice.

“That’s what we’re go­ing back to: rules that were in place for two decades un­der a light-touch reg­u­la­tory ap­proach that al­lowed the in­ter­net to ex­plode and pros­per and grow,” Thune said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.