It was just about 15 months ago that Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai crushed Obama-era net neutrality under his obnoxiously large novelty mug. Ever since, grassroots campaigners and Democrats have been fighting to reinstate the laws set in place by the 2015 Open Internet Order. Yesterday, the first victory in a new battle for net neutrality has been won in the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
The Save the Internet Act (H.R. 1644) cleared the House Subcommittee by a vote of 18 to 11. Even better, it made it through completely unscathed, with no amendments or loop holes. Only a single amendment was even introduced, and that was quickly withdrawn after the majority, heartened by activist support, pushed back.
Digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future helped spearhead a campaign to bring awareness to what otherwise would be considered a minor procedural vote. They created a widget with a livestream of the markup and vote alongside a link to take immediate action. Along with support by leading Internet players like Twitter, Etsy, Tumblr, and even Pornhub, the activists were able to put pressure on lawmakers to move the SIA through.
Opponents attempted to compound the net neutrality issues with privacy and abuse concerns constantly swirling around platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While it’s true those valid issues aren’t addressed in H.R. 1644, they’re not meant to be; the bill is aimed at preventing telecoms from practicing throttling or paid prioritization.
“I just want to comment about what we’re really here to do,” stated Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell (via Electronic Frontier Foundation). “We’re asking a lot of questions and making it really complicated, and it’s really simple. Today we’re addressing a wrong that was created by Chairman Pai when he abolished net neutrality. And he hurt millions of Americans across this country.”
The SIA next heads to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for a second vote. To take action and let your representatives know you want them to support the bill, head here.