The U.S. Senate acted in the best interests of small businesses when it voted Wednesday to restore net neutrality rules, said John Arensmeyer, chief executive of the Small Business Majority.
The Senate voted on Wednesday in favor of keeping open-internet rules in a bid to overturn the Federal Communications Commission decision to repeal net neutrality rules, but the measure is unlikely to be approved by the House of Representatives or the White House, Reuters explained.
The 52 to 47 vote margin in the Senate was larger than expected with three Republicans — John Kennedy, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins — voting with 47 Democrats and two independents to reverse the Trump administration’s action.
Democrats used a law that allows Congress to reverse regulatory actions by a simple majority vote but it is not clear if the U.S. House of Representatives will vote at all on the measure, while the White House has said it opposed repealing the December FCC order.
But many politicians are convinced the issue will help motivate younger people to vote in the 2018 congressional elections and numerous polls show overwhelming public support for retaining the Obama-era net neutrality rules.
The FCC in December repealed rules set under Democratic President Barack Obama that barred internet service providers from blocking or slowing access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.
“Without protections in place to keep the internet fair and open, small businesses will be put at a disadvantage when trying to compete with larger corporations that have the resources to ensure their websites receive special prioritization from their internet service providers,” Arensmeyer said of Wednesday’s vote.
“This vote was necessary to undo the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) December 2017 decision to end net neutrality protections. If that disastrous FCC move is not overturned, small employers could lose business because their websites might experience longer load times, or their sites could be blocked entirely from reaching consumers,” Arensmeyer said.
“The majority of small employers are worried about this scenario. In fact, Small Business Majority’s scientific opinion polling found 56 percent of small business owners oppose the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, with nearly 4 in 10 strongly opposing the repeal. The poll also found nearly half of all small businesses say net neutrality is important to the operation of their business,” he said.
“Maintaining an open internet through net neutrality helps ensure fair and equal access to broadband for both entrepreneurs and consumers alike. We’re glad the Senate took the first step to protect net neutrality, and we urge the U.S. House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead so small businesses and start-ups can compete in a busy online marketplace,” he said.
Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, said he would launch an effort on Thursday to try to force a House vote and needs the backing of at least two dozen Republicans. He said Democrats would try to make it a campaign issue if Republicans will not allow a vote.
“Let’s treat the internet like the public good that it is. We don’t let water companies or phone companies discriminate against customers; we don’t restrict access to interstate highways, saying you can ride on the highway, and you can’t,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said. “We shouldn’t do that with the internet either.”
The 2015 rules were intended to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to Web content and bar broadband service providers from favoring their own material or others’.
The new December 2017 rules require internet providers to tell consumers whether they will block or slow content or offer paid “fast lanes.”
Republican Senator John Thune, who chairs the Commerce Committee, said “the fact of the matter is nothing is going to change” after the new rules take effect – and will not prod people to vote. “I don’t know how that animates people to vote if their Netflix is working,” he told Reuters.
(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).
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