US Senate backs effort to restore 'net neutrality' rules

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The Senate has taken action to protect net neutrality rules set to end next month. John Boozman, R-Ark., said in a written statement. The Internet was free and open before 2015, when the prior FCC buckled to political pressure from the White House and imposed utility-style regulation on the Internet.

In what could represent a landmark moment, the US Senate has voted 52-47 to preserve net neutrality regulation introduced under Barack Obama, after the FCC repealed it last December.

Democrats forced the May 16 vote using an obscure legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The commissions abrogate of net neutrality is scheduled to come into effect in a few weeks. The resolution passed with the backing of all 49 Democratic senators and three Republicans: Susan Collins of Maine, John N. Kennedy of Louisiana and Lisa A. Murkowski of Alaska. They were the focus of heavy lobbying by Net neutrality supporters in recent days.

AT&T said Wednesday it backs an open internet and "actual bipartisan legislation that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protections for all internet users".

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Neither tipped a hand until they voted a few hours earlier Wednesday to move the measure past a procedural hurdle.

"I voted to hopefully get beyond the politics on this, which is the seesaw back and forth between Republican FCC and a Democratic FCC that doesn't lend any level of certainty to the process", she told reporters.

Under the original net neutrality rule, internet service providers were also banned from providing faster internet access and preferred services to companies for extra fees - so called "fast lanes".

The regulations are strongly supported by liberals and online companies including Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google, and dozens of smaller Web-based companies. "It doesn't make sense to apply outdated rules from 1934 to the Internet, but that's exactly what the prior Administration did". Keep a watch on the voting for and against net neutrality. Democrats think the fight to restore the rules could be a political victor during November's congressional midterm elections even if the effort is unsuccessful, as it will force Republicans to record a vote against reinstating the rules.

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Democrats argued the new FCC rules give too much power to internet service providers, which they fear will throttle down speeds for some websites and services while ramping it up for others who pay more.

In the event, a number of states are creating their own laws that will ensure net neutrality remains locally, but some experts are questioning how enforceable it is.

Information for this article was contributed by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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