The Democrats have declared that they’re putting forward two to bills in the House and the Senate, which together are dubbed the Save the Internet Act.
These bills have been drawn up in order to reinstate the net neutrality laws that were removed in 2017 under the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. ‘Restoring internet freedom’ might sound noble, but the move actually handed a lot of power over to the big telecommunications corporations. The decision was actually met with fierce opposition, as it essentially allows internet providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to ‘throttle’ content without any legal consequences.
What throttling basically means is that internet providers can slow down your connection depending on the content that you’re trying to access. Although providers insist that this is done to manage overall connection speeds and bottlenecks, it raises big concerns about whether or not all traffic is treated equally. In the face of recent spats between tech giants like AT&T and Netflix, it seems like this could definitely have a negative effect on consumers – nevermind some of the more sinister possibilities around censorship.
Many net neutrality advocates have welcomed the Democrat’s renewed push for net neutrality. For example, Gigi Sohn, a fellow at Georgetown University and former communications counselor, has said:
“I applaud the bicameral group of lawmakers who introduced this bill for acting to return the Internet to where it belongs – in the hands of Internet users, not broadband providers.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that lawmakers will take up the bill in “a matter of weeks.” Getting it through the Dem-controlled House should be a piece of cake, but the law faces resistance in the Senate where Republicans hold the majority. After that, they’ll need to avoid getting vetoed by President Trump, a known net neutrality skeptic.
That said, the Dems are hoping they can convince enough Republicans to get behind the legislation. Although critical of some aspects of the legislation, Republicans Bob Latta and Cathy McMorris said in a statement:
“Republicans and Democrats agree, a free and open internet is fundamental to our society. Right now…the internet remains a key driver of economic growth. Let’s come together to ensure that continues, because all sides want a permanent solution. Instead of looking to the extremes, and discarding twenty years of bipartisan consensus, we can come together on shared principles to address blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.”
Can the Democrats save the Internet and restore net neutrality? Or will AT&T be allowed to interrupt Netflix and chill? Stay tuned for more drama on Capitol Hill…