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Urgent Demands for Congress to Act as Net Neutrality's "Slow and Insidious" Death Begins

"Momentum is on our side, but time isn't. Members of Congress need to know that there will be a price to pay for being on the wrong side of internet history."

Demonstrators gather outside of the 31st Annual Chairman's Dinner to show their support for net neutrality at the Washington Hilton December 7, 2017 in Washington, United States. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Today is the day that net neutrality's "slow and insidious" death at the hands of the Republican-controlled FCC officially begins, and Congress is facing urgent pressure to save the open internet before it's too late.

With Monday marking 60 days after the FCC's net neutrality repeal entered the Federal Register, parts of the GOP-crafted plan—spearheaded by agency chair and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai—will now slowly begin taking effect, while some still need to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget.

"Momentum is on our side, but time isn't. Help us save the internet by making your voices heard now."
—Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Net neutrality backers in Congress, meanwhile, are still struggling to compile enough votes to repeal Pai's new rules, despite the fact that they are deeply unpopular among the American public.

The Senate needs just one more vote to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore net neutrality protections before it can move to the House, where it would face an uphill battle. An official vote in the Senate has yet to be scheduled, but could come in the next few weeks.

In a recent Twitter thread, the advocacy group Fight for the Future warned against sensationalistic headlines proclaiming that net neutrality will immediately be gone on Monday, noting that large telecom companies will ensure that the open internet's death is as quiet and subtle as possible in order to minimize public backlash.

"The ISPs aren't going to immediately start blocking content or rolling out paid prioritization scams. They know Congress and the public are watching them," the group noted. "And that's the worst part. What will happen is over time ISP scams and abuses will become more commonplace and more accepted. They'll roll out new schemes that appear good on their face but undermine the free market of ideas by allowing ISPs to pick winners and losers."

With net neutrality backers in Congress scrambling to rally enough votes to repeal Pai's rules, states like Washington and California are moving ahead with ambitious plans to protect the open internet from telecom throttling and manipulation.

As Common Dreams reported last week, California legislation that has been hailed as the "gold standard" for net neutrality protections has passed out of the Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, despite a fervent effort by the telecom industry to tank the bill.

While advocacy groups have applauded state efforts to defend the open internet from Pai's FCC, they have argued that the only way to ensure net neutrality protections nationwide is to restore them at the federal level.

In a recent series of tweets, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)—who introduced the resolution to bring back net neutrality safeguards shortly after the FCC voted to repeal them last December—urged Americans to pressure their lawmakers to act before Pai's plan takes full effect.

"Momentum is on our side, but time isn't. Help us save the internet by making your voices heard now," Markey concluded. "Members of Congress need to know that there will be a price to pay for being on the wrong side of internet history."

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