In 2017, net neutrality was one of the hottest and most concerning topics in the news as the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal Obama era internet laws in 2017. A news cycle with such high turnover, however, has allowed the pressing information to fall off of many Americans’ radars over the last few months. But on April 3rd, the House Energy and Commerce Committee just voted 30-22 to approve an amended version of the Save the Internet Act of 2019 (H.R.1644), which would reinstate laws protecting net neutrality.
Soon after the committee’s approval, the bill moved into the House of Representatives, where it passed 232-190, reports The Verge. Its next move will be to move into the Senate, where proponents need a supermajority of 60 votes. If it passes, it will land on the president’s desk, where it is likely to be vetoed.
The White House released a statement claiming that if the bill “were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend that he veto it.”
The net neutrality fight is largely headed by Democrats, with the Save the Internet bill proposed by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). The bill bans internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile from blocking or throttling consumer access to the internet and empowers the FCC as the main authority to enforce those rules through Title II of the Communications Act.
The blocking and throttling issue is relatively bipartisan, but the Title II issue is more of a battleground. Internet providers are currently classified as Title II common carriers rather than a Title I communications services, which means they are more heavily regulated than their Title I competitors and subject to the FCC’s authority to protect consumers and online businesses against the “unjust or unreasonable” practices of ISPs.
Democrats worry that if the bill doesn’t reinstate Title II classification, there will be no one to keep ISPs honest, allowing rich and powerful corporations to exploit the internet and its users without consequence.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has predicted the Save the Internet Act to be “dead on arrival” as soon as it leaves the House and enters the Senate.