Dems rally net neutrality supporters ahead of key FCC vote

Dems rally net neutrality supporters ahead of key FCC vote

Democratic lawmakers rallied net neutrality supporters ahead of the FCC’s initial vote on Thursday to start rolling back the Obama-era regulations.

A string of Democrats took to the Senate floor on Wednesday afternoon to argue in favor of the rules, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. And many lawmakers took to social media to encourage people to show their support for the regulations.

On Thursday, the FCC will vote on whether to solicit public input on the proposal to undo the rules, the first step in the process of rolling them back.

Democrats argue that getting rid of net neutrality will give internet service providers the ability to favor or discriminate against certain web content.

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"A level regulatory playing field means that these powerful interests, the cable companies specifically, can’t pick winners and losers because of their political or personal views," said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach MORE (D-Ore.) from the Senate floor.

Republicans and internet providers oppose the regulations because they reclassified the broadband industry as common carriers, opening them up to tougher regulation from the FCC.

Major companies that oppose the rules — like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — have maintained that they support net neutrality principles and promised not to abuse their powers in the absence of the FCC’s rules.

But net neutrality supporters argue that this is not enough.

“Without net neutrality as a matter of rule and law, there is nothing that prevents them from treating content or websites differently,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in his own floor speech. “And in fact, they will have financial incentives to do just that because making profits is their obligation.”

If the FCC votes in favor of the proposal on Thursday, the proceeding will then be open to public comment. There have already been 1.6 million comments submitted.

Democrats also took to Twitter to rally people to comment in favor of the rules.