Last spring, Senate Democrats forced and won a vote on a resolution to reverse the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which had rolled back the agency’s 2015 assumption of heavy-handed Title II powers over internet service providers. However, that “net neutrality” resolution utilizing the power of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) officially failed this week when it ran out of time in the House of Representatives.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai welcomed the end of this CRA effort. He said, “I’m pleased that a strong bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives declined to reinstate heavy-handed internet regulation.”
Pai said Congress “did the right thing,” particularly in light of the rise of broadband speed and access benefits for consumers since adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order in December 2017.
From the red alert symbols being used by a number of politicians and their allies, you might have thought the internet would grind to a halt when the FCC’s new order took effect. It didn’t. Indeed, in his statement, Pai declared, “Over the past year, the internet has remained free and open.”
When Chairman Pai led the commission to approve his Restoring Internet Freedom framework a year ago, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of NRB, commended the agency for “resisting alarmism” and Pai, in particular, “for his fairness, transparency, and firm commitment to an online environment that honors freedom and welcomes innovation.”
Johnson then added, “While the previous administration’s executive power play is not the answer, there are indeed valid concerns about blocking and other forms of discrimination online.” He urged congressional hearings on viewpoint censorship by major edge providers like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. That initial call has been answered over the last year and this matter promises to remain a major concern in need of resolution in the year ahead.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations