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Markey drafts resolution to reverse FCC on Net Neutrality

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) speaks on Net Neutrality December 13, 2017. Screen Shot Photo

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) drafted a Congressional Review Act resolution to reverse the FCC decision to repeal Net neutrality. Congressional Democrats and proponents of an open Internet plan to fight the FCC decision.

“We will fight the FCC’s decisions in the courts, and we will fight it in the halls of Congress. With this CRA, Congress can correct the Commission’s misguided and partisan decision and keep the internet in the hands of the people, not big corporations,” said Markey  in a release on Thursday.

“Our Republican colleagues have a choice – be on the right side of history and stand with the American people who support net neutrality, or hold hands with the big cable and broadband companies who only want to supercharge their profits at the expense of consumers and our economy.”

Legislators rally against repeal

Fifteen fellow senators, including Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) signed on as co-sponsors.
“This is a disastrous decision. It will impact every American. It will  give huge advantages to big corporations over small businesses.” – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders
The statement went on to say that Senator Markey’s resolution of disapproval would rescind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s item and fully restore the Open Internet Order. Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions allow Congress to overturn regulatory actions at federal agencies with a simple majority vote in both chambers.

In accordance with the Congressional Review Act, the Senators will formally introduce the resolution once the rule is submitted to both houses of Congress and published in the federal register. Congressman Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) plans to introduce a CRA resolution in the House of Representatives.

In his own release, Doyle spoke to his efforts to thwart Pai’s efforts and his intentions.

“The Open Internet Order has been effective at preserving a level playing field where consumers have access to the content and services they want – and online businesses are able to compete on the basis of cost and quality of their product rather than how much they can pay Internet Service Providers to block or throttle their competition,” Congressman Doyle said in response to the FCC vote.

“I’ve tried repeatedly to convince Chairman Pai to abandon his plans to dismantle the Open Internet Order – most recently by organizing a letter from 118 Members of Congress urging him not to take this vote today – and now that the FCC has voted to kill Net Neutrality and give ISPs a green light to control access to the Internet, I will introduce legislation under the Congressional Review Act to overturn today’s order and restore Net Neutrality.

 Attorney  Generals oppose repeal

States’ attorney generals also vowed to fight the repeal in court. Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and New York AG Eric Schneiderman, on Thursday announced their intentions to file suit against the action on social media.

Rhode Island’s Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse encouraged his state’s residents to check to see if their names were used in postings of fake comments to the FCC during its Net Neutrality public comment period.

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A study by the Pew Research Center for Internet and Technology published in November found major issues with the FCC submissions, including the discovery that “Some 57% of the comments utilized either duplicate email addresses or temporary email addresses created with the intention of being used for a short period of time and then discarded.”

Public comment data tainted

The study also noted that many individual names appeared thousands of times in the submissions.

21.7 million comments were submitted. Pew found clear evidence of an “organized effort to flood the comments with repeated messages,” accrediting six percent (6%) of the comments as unique, while the other 94% were said to be “submitted multiple times – in some cases, hundreds of thousands of times.”

Pai, in comments at the International Institute of Communications Telecommunications and Media Forum last week, explained the FCC reasoning for regulatory repeal.

“At its core, this proceeding is really about repealing rules that depress investment and innovation. What will our plan do? When you cut through the legal terms and technical jargon, it’s very simple. The plan will bring back the same policy framework in the United States that governed the Internet for most of its existence—from 1996 until 2015,” Pai said.

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