Big Tech Urges Senate to Restore Net Neutrality

FCC

WASHINGTON – Big tech companies – including Google and Amazon – are asking lawmakers to move forward with a resolution that would nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent decision to repeal net neutrality rules.

Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, sent a letter to U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), that says, in part, that the FCC’s move “represents the complete reversal of broad, bipartisan consensus in the operation of the internet, and leaves consumers with no meaningful protections to ensure their access to the entire internet.”

Beckerman adds, “The time has come for a bipartisan effort to establish permanent net neutrality rules for consumers, startups, established internet businesses, and internet service providers.” 

Insiders say the Internet Association eventually wants Congress to pass legislation enshrining the former net neutrality laws. But its first order of business is to get lawmakers to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the agency’s repeal. That law, which dates to 1996, allows federal lawmakers to vacate recent agency decisions by passing a resolution of disapproval. 

So far, 50 senators – including one Republican – have signed a resolution of disapproval unveiled by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts).

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has weighed in against Markey’s proposed resolution, saying it supports net neutrality principles, but disagrees with the portion of the 2015 rules that classified broadband as a utility service.

Some say it’s not yet clear whether Markey’s proposal will pick up the extra vote it needs in the Senate. A pro-net neutrality group called Fight for the Future just launched Operation: One More Vote, which is encouraging companies and individuals to contact their representatives in the hopes of gaining that needed vote.

Still, even if the bill can clear the Senate, a companion bill in the House hasn’t yet garnered enough support to pass. And even if both chambers of Congress pass the resolution, mustering enough votes to override a veto could prove challenging.

Meanwhile, Mignon L. Clyburn, a Democratic commissioner on the FCC, told ABC News this week that she’s worried that without net neutrality, companies will be able “to do as they will,” and that the FCC “will no longer be the cop on the beat.” 

She added that internet service providers “should not be your gateway or the key to the internet,” and the FCC should “be the referee on the field.”