In mid-December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to reverse the strong net neutrality protections that had been put into place by the 2015 Open Internet Order. Since that time, advocates for net neutrality—an important concept based on the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) should permit access to all lawful content, without favoring some content over others—have continued to fight to ensure that the open character of the internet remains.
In addition to challenging the FCC’s actions through litigation, one possible avenue to retain net neutrality protections is through a process in Congress known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Under CRA, Congress can overturn an agency’s decision through a simple majority vote in both houses within 60 legislative days of publication of an agency’s decision in the Federal Register. It would then require the signature of the President.
Soon after a CRA resolution was introduced by Senator Markey (D-MA) to reverse the FCC’s decision, the Senate version garnered enough co-sponsors to force a vote under Senate rules and Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to hold a vote. To date, 50 senators have co-sponsored the resolution, including all 49 members of the Democratic caucus and Senator Collins (R-ME). Only one more vote is needed for CRA to pass the Senate and with today’s discharge petition, a vote will take place in the Senate by June 12.
An open internet is fundamental to ensuring that access to information remains equitable and that some content is not privileged over others. Net neutrality is based on critical non-discrimination principles, promoting freedom of speech and the Senate could take a welcome step in confirming the importance of an open internet. For a deeper dive into impacts of the loss of net neutrality for research and higher education as well as legal and policy issues, see the latest issue of Research Library Issues.
To help secure one more vote—the critical vote for passage of CRA in the Senate—contact your Senator. Battle for the Net provides an easy way to e-mail, call and tweet your lawmaker.