US Senate votes to restore net neutrality

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The US Senate has voted to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Restoring Internet Freedom Order which replaced previous net neutrality legislation, passing a bill that has little chance of advancing in the House but offers net neutrality supporters and Democrats a political rallying point for the midterm elections.

Net Neutrality protesters in Philadelphia.

They were Susan Collins (R-ME), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The repeal is scheduled to take effect June 11.

The Democratic senators were only able to secure enough votes thanks to three Republican senators who were ultimately persuaded to vote in favour of the proposal.

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Net neutrality requires internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to give their users equal access to all internet content. Upending these rules means that, for a fee, ISPs can prioritize certain websites, allowing them to load more quickly on their users' devices, and slow down or even block other sites. The potential full support of all Democrats would still see the need for 22 Republicans to agree in order for this to happen, which many United States analysts view as a tall order. In recent months, Republicans have used the tools made available in the Congressional Review Act to overturn several environmental, health and safety rules put into place in the final months of the Obama administration.

In the end, the US Senate approved the roll back by 52 votes to 47, and it will now move to the House for review, where it faces an uphill battle. Telecommunications companies oppose the regulations. "Today's bipartisan vote to reinstate net neutrality is critical to promoting innovation, supporting our hard-working people, and encouraging economic growth - and it would not have been possible without the energy and passion of all those who contacted their elected representatives and made their voices heard". "It's disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin".

"We will take a stand to protect our online economy, or we will say goodbye to the Internet as we know it", said Sen.

"This is our chance, our best chance to make sure the internet stays accessible and affordable to all Americans", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from NY. The FCC's reckless decision to end net neutrality creates major uncertainty for small businesses and threatens their ability to grow and create jobs in New Hampshire. "It will allow internet service providers and cable companies to dictate the winners and losers in the digital world and it will give a very small number of market players near-limitless power, stifling the rights of citizens that can not afford to play by their rules".

Information for this article was contributed by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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