U.S. Senate votes to halt repeal of Net Neutrality rules

Good news: The U.S. Senate has voted to keep in place “Net Neutrality” rules that prevent Internet providers from blocking or slowing users’ access to certain websites and charging more for faster delivery of some content.

Senators voted 52 to 47, mostly along party lines, to stop the Federal Communications Commission from repealing the rules that were put in place three years ago under former President Barack Obama. The repeal is scheduled to take effect on June 11. Three Republicans – Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – joined all 49 Democrats in voting to keep the regulations in place.

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The measure now goes to the House, where it’s not certain Republicans will be willing to take it up. Even if the legislation clears Congress, it has to be signed into law by President Trump, who hasn’t exactly been a fan of Net Neutrality.

In August 2017 comments to the Federal Communications Commission, Apple urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai not to roll back an existing ban against so-called “fast lanes,” which might allow broadband providers someday to charge for faster delivery of companies’ movies, music or other content. The tech giant had this to say:

Broadband providers should not block, throttle, or otherwise discriminate against lawful websites and services. Far from new, this has been a foundational principle of the FCC’s approach to net neutrality for over a decade. Providers of online goods and services need assurance that they will be able to reliably reach their customers without interference from the underlying broadband provider.”

Lifting the current ban on paid prioritization arrangements could allow broadband providers to favor the transmission of one provider’s content or services (or the broadband provider’s own online content or services) over other online content, fundamentally altering the internet as we know it today — to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation.

Apple remains open to alternative sources of legal authority, but only if they provide for strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable protections, like those in place today. Simply put, the internet is too important to consumers and too essential to innovation to be left unprotected and uncertain.