opinion   |   column

Net neutrality is not going away



The U.S. Senateutilized an obscure legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act on May 16 to vote for the reinstatement of Obama-era net neutrality regulations. 

The 52-47 vote split party boundaries with three Republican Senators reconsidering their past decisions on the matter. Still, this may come as a beacon of false hope, as Representatives within the House continue to appear steadfast in their previous votes to repeal net neutrality regulations. 

Americans are more than aware of the gravity of the eventual result, so when can real hope for net neutrality come about? All signs point to the midterm election results in November being the true key to net neutrality's reinstatement.

A study performed in late 2017 by the Program for Public Consultation and Voice of the People found that 83 percent of Americans do not support the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, with about one in five Republicans supporting the move, according to The Washington Post. Studies of this nature, coupled with this past week’s vote in the Senate, have fueled Democrats to turn net neutrality into an electoral issue. Democrats, and many Republicans who are passionate about the issue, carry the sentiment of “If they don’t vote in favor, we vote them out." 

While the needle moves in the direction of bipartisan support, this will most likely not affect the House’s vote in the coming weeks. The FCC has made it clear that they are not concerned with voter opinion by following through with their move, which quietly becomes effective on June 11. 

Still, making use of the Congressional Review Act in voting sessions following November with the definitive numbers for defeating this move by the FCC could be quite attainable, and would make the agency unable to make similar moves in the future. 

This truth is shrouded in nearly inescapable hopelessness, leading many to throw up their hands on the issue. This sense of demoralization within supporters of net neutrality is understandable, but should not be exempt of confidence as time goes on. 

Mobilizing voters of all creeds to select candidates who support net neutrality in November’s election has become the prolonged gasp of hope for the issue’s supporters. There are many ways for you to help the movement if it falls flat in the House.

Supporting advocacy groups like Fight For the Future, who remain diligent of voting patterns of representatives and create petitions and advertisements in support of net neutrality, is what many supporters are doing. 

To help preserve net neutrality, encourage spreading of credible, fact-based literature on the issue among your friends or loved ones who are unsure where they stand, and educate those who do not understand net neutrality. Make your voice heard by your representatives through letters and calls to their office or party, and do more than like or retweet posts supporting net neutrality - go out and vote this November.

It is convenient to sit on our hands while we wait for net neutrality to eventually become regained once more, but that cannot be achieved without fastidious voting and holding our officials accountable. While seemingly unfeasible, your diligence will keep the Internet free.

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