The net neutrality repeal passed late last year is likely to lead to a messy legal nightmare that will be so bad people will likely build their own internet to avoid it. It’d be a lot easier if the old rules were just put back in place. But wouldn’t that require the FCC to have a change of heart and reverse its own rules?
Not quite. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts has led the charge to force the Senate to vote on whether or not to restore the Open Internet Order, which enshrines the rules of net neutrality in regulation. And ironically, this is happening thanks to a twenty year old law put in place by Republicans.
- Ironically, this is all thanks to Newt Gingrinch: In 1996, Newt Gingrich led the charge to pass the Congressional Review Act. This let the legislative branch consider and vote on regulations, and if they didn’t like them, they could strike them from the books. The idea was to reduce regulation, but there’s a degree of irony here, since you pass a regulation to remove a regulation. So the CRA could be used for the exact opposite of its intent. That’s what’s happening here.
- Thirty Democratic senators have signed on to launch the CRA process: The CRA subjects the regulation to a simple majority vote. If that vote is an affirmative, then the Senate debates, has a final vote, and sends it to the House. If the House votes to overturn the regulations, it goes to Trump to sign.
So, yes, it is unlikely net neutrality will actually pass this way: Trump has posed in front of large piles of paper claiming he’s passed more regulations to lift regulations than any President, and Ajit Pai joined the FCC on the personal recommendation of Mitch McConnell. Furthermore, you have Republicans saying things like “nobody needs the internet.” So despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans want net neutrality and the FCC may be in legal trouble for allowing an identity-thieving spambot to run amok on its servers, the GOP is unlikely to change their minds.
In other words, you really shouldn’t count on this to save net neutrality, even if simply reinstating the regulations would save the federal government millions of dollars in legal fees. And also it would probably mean fewer government regulations in the long run, as it’s unlikely, at the very least, identity thieving spambots will legally be allowed to run amok on government servers. But we’ll see; especially now that 2018 is here, which means elections, this might go further than everyone is hoping.