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Democrats Announce Bill to Restore Net Neutrality Amid Grassroots Pressure

Net neutrality campaigners and policy experts express hope that a new bill will fully restore open internet protections.

Protesters advocating for net neutrality rally on the streets of Philadelphia, January 13, 2018. Net neutrality campaigners and policy experts express hope that a new bill will fully restore open internet protections.

After sustained grassroots activism made net neutrality a key component of the Democratic Party’s agenda in the new Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that Democrats plan to introduce legislation on Wednesday to restore the open internet protections repealed by the Republican-controlled FCC last year.

While the text of the bill — formally titled the “Save the Internet Act” — has not yet been released, net neutrality campaigners and policy experts expressed hope that the bill will aim to fully restore the strong open internet protections killed by the FCC, which is currently chaired by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai.

“The bill isn’t out yet, but we hope it will give a congressional stamp of approval to the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules and the whole Open Internet Order,” Tim Karr, senior director of strategy and communications at Free Press, told Common Dreams. “That’s crucial, because the legal framework already in Title II is the baseline for guaranteeing the full range protections demanded by internet users, including overwhelming majorities of Democratic and Republican voters.”

The renewed congressional effort to restore net neutrality comes after the House failed to pass a resolution to overturn the FCC’s repeal before the deadline last December. The Senate passed the resolution last May by a 52-47 vote.

Following Pelosi’s announcement on Monday, the advocacy group Demand Progress credited open internet supporters nationwide for keeping up the pressure on their members of Congress to restore net neutrality rules, which are supported by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans.

“Because of grassroots activism, lawmakers are making the restoration of net neutrality a top priority this Congress,” the group said on Twitter. “Activists have kept this issue alive and have refused, flat out, to give Big Cable lobbyists a win — let’s keep making noise until protections are 100 percent restored!”

Fight for the Future, which has been at the center of open internet activism nationwide, echoed the call to turn up the heat on lawmakers until net neutrality protections are reinstated.

“For months lawmakers have been promising to overturn Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal. Now news just broke that they will introduce legislation to reinstate strong rules this Wednesday,” Fight for the Future wrote in a series of tweets on Monday. “Now that the news is in the headlines the telecom lobbyists are gearing up to swarm Capitol Hill. We need to push lawmakers extra hard to support the new legislation before the lobbyists get to ’em. Call your lawmakers ASAP.”