US Senate votes to preserve net neutrality, but effort faces overwhelming odds

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U.S. Senate Democrats were handed a major victory on Wednesday when the body voted 52 to 47 in favor of undoing the Federal Communications Commission's "Restoring Internet Freedom" order, which ended Obama-era net neutrality protections.

The measure passed with a better margin than expected, with three Republicans and two independents helping to put Democrats over the top, Reuters observed. It must still survive the Republican-dominated House of Representatives however, and a likely veto by President Donald Trump. The White House has opposed any return to net neutrality.

Senate Democrats took advantage of the Congressional Review Act to force a vote on the matter. Without intervention, net neutrality is expected to vanish on June 11.

Supporters of net neutrality have worried that if internet providers are no longer subject to Title II rules, they will begin preferentially blocking or throttling traffic, favoring their own services or customers and partners that pay the best. Restoring Internet Freedom simply requires ISPs to inform the public of those tactics.

Among the corporate backers of neutrality is Apple. The company's business model is highly dependent on fast internet access, whether for services like Apple Music, iTunes, and FaceTime, or just general usability.

"An open internet ensures that hundreds of millions of consumers get the experience they want, over the broadband connections they choose, to use the devices they love, which have become an integral part of their lives," the company remarked in an August letter to the FCC intended to steer the agency's thinking.