Republican Mike Coffman joins push to restore net neutrality
Colorado Representative Mike Coffman on Tuesday became the first Republican to demonstrate support for U.S. House efforts to force a vote on net neutrality protections, undone earlier this year by a 3-2 vote at the Federal Communications Commission.
Coffman has also introduced a bill that would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require net neutrality. So far, the petition to force a vote has only had the support of 176 Democrats, Reuters noted — a problem given that the House has 435 members in all. A majority must sign for the vote to take place.
The Coffman bill would ban measures like throttling, blocking, and paid prioritization by internet service providers, but if passed would also block the FCC from setting service rates. At present, it is not clear if the bill as it stands will even make it to a vote.
During the Obama administration, a 2015 order placed ISPs under Title II regulations treating them as utilities, enshrining net neutrality. In December however the FCC under Republican chairman Ajit Pai voted to overturn net neutrality, which officially expired on June 11.
Pai has largely dismissed fears that his campaign could lead to things like tiered website access and an uphill battle for startups. He has also downplayed accusations that many of the 22 million public comments submitted to the FCC were submitted multiple times, and/or that millions of them were faked.
An undercurrent of resistance has existed within the U.S. government. On May 16 the Senate voted 52 to 47 to reverse the FCC's decision, and a collection of 22 states has sued the FCC. The cause is also believed to have broad public support, but opposition from major ISPs like Verizon.
AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon have vowed not to engage in unfair discrimination, but the companies are no longer legally bound to do so.
Apple has been a vocal backer of net neutrality. Throttling, blocking, or prioritization could potentially interfere with services like Apple Music and iTunes, and the company depends on smooth internet in general to make its hardware appealing.