Congress is set to take action to protect the open internet, and is one vote shy of saving the web from the FCC’s clutches.
Ever since the FCC voted to end open internet protections, commonly called “net neutrality,” a number of ways to fight the ruling have been considered. Over 20 states are suing the FCC, a Michigan gubernatorial candidate is talking about the internet as a public utility, and waves of protest across the country all are part of eleventh-hour efforts to save the internet.
But the last, best hope is Congress, where 32 Senators have petitioned to invoke the Congressional Review Act. The act allows Congress to overrule regulatory decisions made by government agencies of the Executive. At the moment, two Republicans have joined 48 Democrats, putting the review at a dead tie in the Senate.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) April 30, 2018
In response to this rush to get one more vote, the internet has banded together under a “Red Alert.” Major websites like Reddit are prompting their users to call senators in advance of next week’s vote to voice their support for open internet protections. A campaign led by Foursquare is specifically targeting users in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana and Nevada whose senators could be instrumental.
Specifically, activists have targeted Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), among others.
But even if it passes the Senate, it faces steep opposition in the House and would need to be signed into law by President Trump, who appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who made dismantling open internet protections his mission after they were enacted during the Obama administration.
Pai is so confident that his gutting of internet protections won’t be overturned, having a history of mocking net neutrality advocates.
A vast majority of Americans support net neutrality, and while no approach to saving it is a sure-fire win, the U.S. Senate taking up the issue is a sign that at least some in Washington understand the importance of open internet protections. If it passes the Senate, it will cement the issue as something the 2018 midterms can’t ignore.
And while the Congressional review process plays out, calls of a public internet utility or lawsuits against the FCC will continue. The war to save the internet rages on.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.