Senate Votes to Reinstate Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules

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Chuck Schumer of New York, accompanied by Sen.

UPDATED, 1:20 PM: The Senate narrowly passed a measure today to preserve net neutrality rules that ensure unfettered access to the internet.

"Net neutrality is about keeping the internet accessible for small businesses, students, entrepreneurs, startups, and Ohioans looking for jobs", said a statement from Ohio Democratic Sen. Without those, telecom companies could quash competition and free speech on the Internet - a response consumer groups warn is increasingly likely as Netflix and other streaming services eat up the telecoms' bandwidth.

Voting with the Democrats were Republican Sens.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., called it a "highly politicized campaign" that was filled with "fear-mongering hypotheticals, misdirection and outright false claims".

Even though the Federal Communications Commission narrowly voted to dismantle Obama-era internet regulations in December, Senators voted to save them.

The repeal takes effect June 11. All 49 Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of stopping the FCC's order, while three Republicans - Susan Collins from Maine, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, and John Kennedy from Louisiana - broke with their party to vote in favor as well. Collins had previously said she supported the underlying measure.

Net neutrality has been championed by congressional Democrats, who hope that their support of an open internet will appeal to young voters.

A final vote is expected later on Wednesday afternoon.

The U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday to save net neutrality, marking only the second time Congress has taken any significant legislative stance on the contentious topic. The measure can not be filibustered in the Senate.

Net neutrality rules introduced by the previous United States administration prevent telecom providers from interfering with Internet traffic and favouring particular websites. But ultimately, I'm confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail. Telecommunications companies oppose the regulations.

Eventually, net neutrality may be restored.

Senate supporters of the FCC rules put forward the legislation under the Congressional Review Act, a law that permits Congress to revisit - and reject - decisions by administrative agencies within a certain window of their approval. Instead, it simply requires providers to disclose how they handle internet traffic. "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.

"But Democrats have already made clear that the resolution today is about the elections in November", McConnell said before the debate began. Without it, they said, consumers could end up paying higher prices for slower service or even be stopped from accessing some of their favorite websites or apps.

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