Net Neutrality Activist Action Gears Up Again

It may be August recess for House members, but net neutrality activists are keeping the heat on, organizing another in a series of “action days,” on Aug. 16 for small businesses looking to get members of Congress where they live—back in their home districts—to try and convince them to restore net neutrality rules on ISPs.

That is the same day that Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, is holding an oversight hearing with the five FCC commissioners—the chairman is also a commissioner—where Democrats are likely to bring up the topic of the new, regulatory-lite, net neutrality oversight regime.

Thune has been calling for bipartisan legislation to restore some of those rules and the FCC’s oversight of them, but without the Title II common carrier designation that under-girded the 2015 Open Internet Order the current FCC rolled back in eliminating the regs against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

Democrats on the Hill were not happy with Pai’s characterization of their criticism of the rollback of the regs as from “chicken littles” whose dire “sky is falling” warnings were off base, he said. That came at a House oversight hearing of the FCC last month.

There were plenty of dire predictions out of Senate Dems as well. Democrats on both sides of the aisle, and activists in the field, are pushing a Congressional Review Act resolution that would nullify the reg rollback and restore Title II-based rules. It has narrowly passed the Senate, but appears to have no chance in the House, where it still lacks most of four dozen votes--including some Dems--to force a floor vote.

Pai has said the internet remains free and open and repealing the rules was the light touch the market needed to invest in the kind of faster, better, cheaper broadband that can help close the digital divide.

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.