ND Senate discuss net neutrality, plan moving forward

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"The big cities of this country are banding together on this issue to use the power of the purse", Nirenberg said, pointing to New York's effort to boycott providers that don't adhere to net neutrality.

Senator Kamala Harris in a statement: "Broadband service providers - the gatekeepers to the Internet - have the technical means and business incentive to distort the online marketplace".

"This is our chance, our best chance, to make sure the Internet stays accessible and affordable for all Americans", he said as the debate began. They will face a tough fight in the House because many Republican reps support FCC's regulation.

"That's what we're going back to: rules that were in place for two decades under a light-touch regulatory approach that allowed the internet to explode and prosper and grow", Thune said.

Net neutrality advocates rally February 27 at the Capitol.

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".

Senators voted 52-47 to overturn the Restoring Internet Freedom Order issued by the FCC past year. The changes are set to take effect 11 June. The final vote was 52-47. Collins, R-Maine, John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Collins announced her support in January, but Kennedy and Murkowski had been undecided. The Congress has 60 days to review and revoke Net Neutrality under the CRA. Using the Congressional Review Act, or CRA, senators were able to reverse the decision reached by the government agency.

While the majority of Democrats are for retaining net neutrality and Republicans err more towards repealing the rules, the issue is not totally clear-cut across party lines and general consumer sentiment in the states is also moving against the FCC. The measure can not be filibustered in the Senate.

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". "It will allow internet service providers and cable companies to dictate the winners and losers in the digital world and it will give a very small number of market players near-limitless power, stifling the rights of citizens that can not afford to play by their rules". Telecommunications companies oppose the regulations.

The bill will have a much harder time in the House of Representatives, where Democrats would need 25 Republicans to switch sides in order to bring it up for a vote. "The most important vote we're going to have in this generation on the internet", said Democratic Senator Edward Markey of MA, who sponsored the measure.

He said that instead, "Democrats have already made clear that the resolution today is about the elections in November".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday that the solution was for lawmakers to draft Net neutrality legislation "that would safeguard consumers but still prevent regulators from stifling innovation".

Markey said he expects to see more Republican members of the House come out in favor of net neutrality following the vote.