Fighting for the Future (of the CRA)

Fight for the Future is launching arguably a last-ditch campaign to pressure the House to repeal the Federal Communications Commisson’s deregulatory Restoring Internet Freedom Order, though it seems at this juncture a lost cause.

Evangeline Lilly

Evangeline Lilly

Speaking of Lost, actress Evangeline Lilly has been recruited to help drum up support and dollars.

With the House turning over at the first of the year, a Congressional Review Act resolution to re-regulate internet access might well have passed in January. But the deadline for House passage of a CRA to nullify rules that went into effect in June is next month — when Republicans will still have control.

The Senate already narrowly passed the CRA, but it would take House passage and President Donald Trump’s signature, all before Congress adjourns at the end of the year. There are only a few days of legislative sessions left.

There are currently 179 House members pledged to support the resolution, well short of the 218 simple majority total needed. More than a dozen Democrats are yet to sign on. The plurality of those are in Pennsylvania where the nation’s largest ISP, Comcast, is headquartered.

FFTF is crowdfunding its campaign and says it has found a number of companies and a few high-profile donors for its matching grant effort, including actress Lilly (Lost, Ant-Man and the Wasp, The Hobbit). “This is not a partisan issue, the battle for the net is a fight for our most basic freedoms,” Lilly said in a statement. “People from across the entire political spectrum can agree that we don’t want anyone to control or manipulate what we see and do on the internet.”

The FCC’s deregulatory Restoring Internet Freedom order took effect June 11. ISPs have pointed to the fact that there was not suddenly a rush on the blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. But groups like FFTF and Demand Progress have argued that is a political and business strategy.

“The Internet as we know it won’t end overnight,” Fight for the Future said on its website. “But with each second that passes until net neutrality is restored, it will be slowly dying as Internet providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast raise prices, prioritize data, and eliminate competition.”

ISPs point out that the Federal Trade Commission, now the primary net neutrality regulator, is still empowered to proscribe any conduct that is anticompetitive, backstopped by the Justice Department.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.