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Senators plan push to restore net neutrality rules gutted by FCC – here's how

And Minnesota's two U.S. senators have weighed in.

The Essentials

1. A group of senators has banded together to try to restore open internet protections the FCC voted to dismantle in December.

2. This push was spearheaded by Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who immediately after the FCC's vote proposed a resolution to undo what he called a "historic mistake."

3. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was one of the 15 original supporters of Markey's proposal, and argued the net neutrality rollback would harm rural communities, small businesses and consumers. The newly sworn in Sen. Tina Smith signed on Tuesday. She called net neutrality a "basic – but important – principle."

What Else You Should Know

A quick recap: Net neutrality is the idea that all content on the internet should be treated equally. A 2015 open internet rule supported by the Obama administration required internet service providers to adhere to this – no deliberately blocking or slowing legal content, and no offering paid fast lanes to content providers.

On Dec. 14, the FCC – led by Chair Ajit Pai – voted 3-2 to reclassify broadband internet and effectively undo those rules. Pai argues the net neutrality regulation stifled investments and innovation.

But critics say the elimination of net neutrality rules favors telecom companies and hurts consumers.


5 images showing how net neutrality changes could impact you

Klobuchar, Smith, and three dozen of their colleagues agree with those critics, and we're now seeing a surge in support for Markey's proposal.

But will it go anywhere?

Markey's plan is to use a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution. It's a way for Congress to cancel out rule and regulation changes put into effect by federal agencies, Brookings Institute explains. (Ars Technica points out a CRA resolution is the same method Republicans used in 2017 to allow ISPs to your internet data.) 

The Senate only needs 30 supporters to force a vote, a threshold Markey's resolution passed Monday


Could Minnesota establish its own net neutrality protections?

Even if a vote happens, the proposal's prospects aren't great.

It has to be fully approved by the Senate, which right now Republicans narrowly control with 51 seats. And of the 38 co-sponsors, none are Republican.

Even if it got through the Senate, the House (also under GOP control) would also need to approve the resolution. And then the president would need to sign it, Brookings says.

So this is a bit of a longshot.

Markey however argues that even forcing a full Senate vote means lawmakers have to publicly take a stance.

The net neutrality rollback also faces a legal challenge that has the support of some of the largest internet companies, including Netflix, Amazon and Google.

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