Net Neutrality Advocates Looking for Routes to Upend FCC Rollback

Trade and advocacy groups are among the wide variety of supporters of net neutrality looking for a way to fight an FCC rollback from taking effect—whether in Congress, at the state level, or in the courts. Supporters representing a wide swath of tech, advocacy, and law reportedly meet regularly to coordinate on the issue.

With the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality about to take effect, trade and advocacy groups are among the net neutrality supporters looking for ways to keep the rollback from happening.

One of those efforts appeared in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, as a bill to repeal the rules under the Congressional Review Act was introduced with the support of 50 lawmakers, just one short of a majority in the chamber. The bill only has one Republican supporter, however—Maine’s Susan Collins—and faces an uphill battle in the House, along with long odds of getting a signature from President Trump.

That definitely isn’t the only front for advocates, however, which have been working closely on this issue for months. The Washington Post reported this week that an alliance of trade groups, legal experts, consumer advocates, and tech companies have been meeting regularly in Washington to discuss potential options for saving net neutrality, whether legislative or otherwise.

Among those active in the endeavor, per the Post, include officials from trade groups like the Internet Association and INCOMPAS, along with consumer-advocacy groups such as Free Press and Public Knowledge.

The discussion has gone in multiple directions, with some pushing for a hard-line solution that actively campaigns against opponents to net neutrality in Congress, and others encouraging a compromise-driven approach. While not everyone agrees with the tactics, the outcome seems to largely be supported.

“The room has gotten bigger and bigger over time,” one source told the news outlet. “It’s like 70 people, either in the room or on the phone.”

Meanwhile, a lot of momentum is heating up in the courts over the action. In January, 23 state attorneys general filed suit against the FCC over the open internet action, as did a number of technology companies and nonprofit advocacy groups Public Knowledge and the Open Technology Institute. Many of the groups refiled their lawsuits after the FCC announced the dates the rules will take effect last week.

States appear to be courting action against the law as well; this week, Washington passed a law mandating net neutrality among all ISPs that operate in the state, reportedly the first state in the country to do so. Other states are passing laws requiring that any internet service providers that do business with the state government must follow open-internet principles.

To keep net neutrality as it currently is, advocates are running up against a deadline. Per Fortune, part of the FCC’s rule change will go into effect April 23, and the rest 50 days after the Office of Management and Budget completes a review of the change.

(jastrijebphoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!