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– Internet Take Over?
Senate Dems Come Out
Swinging to Protect Washington’s Control of the Internet
Patrice L. Onwuka
With President Obama’s legacy quickly being eroded, regulating the
internet is one of the few holdouts that progressives are struggling to
hold on to.
This week Senate Democrats came out swinging against the new FCC
Chairman Ajit Pai, who is an opponent of misleadingly named net
neutrality rules. Supporters of internet regulation worry that under Pai
the rules would be on the chopping block. Their fear that a
Republican-controlled FCC, along with a Republican-led Congress, spells
trouble for their cause and they’re toting out over-the-top rhetoric to
draw a line in the sand:
“The big broadband barons and their Republican allies want to turn back
the clock and make big cable and big cell phone companies the
gatekeepers for internet access,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said at a
press conference in the Capitol.
“They have a new FCC chairman in Ajit Pai who will do their bidding.”
Markey and his colleagues think that they can fire up millions of
citizens in a new fight over internet regulations. They point to the
commenting period for the net neutrality rules as evidence that the
public is on their side.
"Remember that two years ago, nearly 4 million Americans offered
comments on the Open Internet Order," Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said at
a press conference this morning (video). "That’s by far, by a factor of
at least two, more than any comments on any rule before the FCC in
Stopping the assault on net neutrality rules won't be easy, said Sen.
Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). "This is another one where early on it’s going to
feel like we’re really pushing the rock up the hill, but if it comes
down to the citizens and people at the grassroots against the special
interests, we can win that," Wyden said. "I’m looking forward to that
As my colleague Charlotte discusses, net neutrality is a nice term that
seems to imply something it is not. Under rules passed last year, the
federal government reclassified the internet as a public utility like
telephones or electricity and can now regulate aspects such as pricing.
Proponents say it ensures that internet providers can’t charge customers
differently based upon usage. However, allowing providers to charge
customers for faster service is something government does all the time
such as speed lanes on some highways. The impact of these rules is
already being felt as companies are scaling back on investing in faster
internet upgrades and expansions.
Never mind all of that. Senate Democrats are trying to stay relevant and
will use this internet fight to try to do so. Chairman Pai remains
committed to keeping the internet open and free. He has his hands full
with this fight, but there’s plenty of support from Congress and
Americans to ensure that the freedom we enjoy online is not reined in by