The Senate has rejected the Republicans’ final appeal against new net neutrality rules.
In a victory for fans of net neutrality everywhere, the US Senate has overturned a Republican-led “resolution of disapproval” which would have stopped the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules from being written into law on November 21. The resolution passed the House in April and would have stopped the FCC from regulating net neutrality on the grounds that doing so would hamper job creation and competition.
The vote ran straight along party lines, with only Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) abstaining. The resolution was rejected by 52-46.
Although the vote held more symbolic power than anything else (President Obama had promised to veto the motion if it passed the Senate), net neutrality advocates are pleased that their rules have been re-ratified at this late stage. In a statement, the FCC said, “Today’s vote is a win for consumers and businesses. Since its adoption in 2010, the Commission’s open Internet framework has brought certainty and predictability, stimulating increased innovation and investment across the broadband economy, including in mobile networks and apps.”
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts was a little more enthusiastic. He praised how the Senate “refused to hand over the internet to a small group of corporate interests,” adding that “we need to keep up the fight because we know this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the assault on net neutrality.”
It goes without saying that this is good news for American internet users. The idea that your internet service provider could be paid to direct you towards and away from content of your own choosing is simultaneously frightening and disappointing. The internet is supposed to be a place for free enterprise and the free exchange of ideas, for cat videos and Flash animations of nostalgic pop songs from the mid-90’s. What would it become if this freedom was dampened? As far as I’m concerned, my ISP has no right to make “Cat Video A” (or, y’know, less vital content) stream slowly while speeding up an alternative, and I’m glad that the U.S. Senate agrees.