Net Neutrality Group Targets Dems and Republicans
Fight for the Future is taking the gloves off in its effort to battle the Republican-controlled FCC's party line vote to roll back net neutrality rules and deed primary 'net regulatory authority to the FTC and Justice Department.
It has launched the VoteForNetNeutrality.com web site, which asks its 'net followers to vote out lawmakers--Republicans and Democrats--who do not join a Democrat-led effort to use the Congressional Review Act to nullify that rule rollback, saying holdouts are "betraying" the public.
The FCC voted 3-2 on Dec. 14 to reclassify ISPs as Title I information services, not Title II telecoms subject to common carrier regulation, and to eliminate rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
Fight For the Future wants Congress to nullify the Restoring Internet Freedom order, just as Republicans did with several Obama-era rules, including the Democratic-led FCC's broadband privacy order. That is a nonstarter with most of the Republicans who control Congress and generally favor the rule rollback, but there were some Republicans who had issues with that rollback, and only a simple majority is needed to approve a CRA resolution.
The Web site will keep a running tally of legislators who have signed on to the CRA, and those who have not. It wants followers to sign a pledge to vote against those not supporting the CRA. That pledge reads: “Dear Congress: Unless you vote for a CRA to overturn the FCC net neutrality vote, I will not vote for you. I have given my phone number to Fight for the Future, who will text me your voting record on the eve of your next election.”
"Any lawmaker that ignores the overwhelming consensus among tech experts and this level of public outcry doesn’t deserve to be in office," says Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer. "News outlets keep asking whether net neutrality will be an election issue in 2018. We are going to make it one.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of Congress' most ardent Title II supporters, is among those leading the CRA charge. Following the Dec. 14 vote he joined with more than a dozen other senators to back a CRA that would undo the Restoring Internet Freedom decision, pointing out that the order was upheld by a federal court.
That is true, but the court essentially confirmed the FCC had had the authority to change course and reclassify under Title II.
Presumably by the same logic, it could change course again, as it has, so long as the decision was legally defensible and not arbitrary and capricious.
But Markey does not see the decision as defensible. “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," he said. "Our Republicans 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.”
Backing the CRA move in addition to Fight for the Future are Demand Progress and Free Press Action Fund (https://www.battleforthenet.com/).
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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.