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FCC puts a date on net neutrality’s tombstone ahead of Senate vote

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By Jayce Wagner


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Net neutrality finally has an official expiration date. Announced Thursday morning, May 10, the Obama-era regulations that ensured an open internet are now set to end on June 11, 2018. This will mark the first date that internet service providers in the United States will be legally allowed to obstruct or alter internet traffic according to their whims, but the fight’s not over yet.

“The agency failed to listen to the American public and gave short shrift to their deeply held belief that internet openness should remain the law of the land,” FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworceltold Reuters. “The FCC is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people.”

The announcement of net neutrality’s expiration date comes right after a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a discharge petition, officially challenging the FCC’s rollback of the Obama-era net neutrality rules. The petition will require a majority vote in the Senate and House of Representatives, along with the signature of President Donald Trump, so it has a long way to go, but the vote could take place as early as next week.

Supporters of the petition have no illusions about the uphill battle they face, however. An important component of the discharge petition fight, which could overturn the FCC’s decision to end the Obama-era net neutrality regulations, is simply making sure the American public knows where their representatives stand on the issue.

“We don’t know how this is going to end, but this is part of an effort to get every member of Congress on the record either supporting or opposing Net Neutrality,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told The Verge. “With this piece of legislation there is nowhere to hide and there are no excuses.”

The discharge petition currently has the support of 47 Senate Democrats, along with senator Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). That means they need at least one more Republican vote for the petition to pass the Senate and be sent to the House of Representatives.

After Thursday’s announcement, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and congressional supporters took to Twitter to call for the Senate and the public to support his discharge petition.


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