Stephen Lendman

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Net Neutrality in Congressional Hands

Net Neutrality in Congressional Hands

by Stephen Lendman

Digital democracy is vital to protect. A free and open Internet is the last frontier of press freedom.

Unrestricted online access is the only way to stay informed, free from state and corporate control.

Telecom and cable giants want control, a way to establish high-priced premium lanes, along with the right to control content, suppressing what they don't want published.

At stake is digital democracy v. corporate dominance. Media scholar/critic Robert McChesney calls Net Neutrality the "defining issue" of our time, saying:

It's a "critical juncture (window of opportunity for) a communication system (that's) a powerful impetus (for) a more egalitarian, humane, sustainable, and creative (self-governing) society."

It's a right too important to lose. The Trump administration wants it stolen from society, handed to corporate predators, banning states from imposing their own Net Neutrality rules - an affront to millions of Americans relying on free and open Internet access, public sentiment overwhelmingly against changing the current system.

Congress can override Trump's FCC. House and Senate members have been deluged with calls and emails to reverse its ruling. 

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) lets Congress override federal regulatory changes by a simple majority within 60 working days after a regulation is published in the Federal Register.

So far, 50 senators (including one Republican) support rescinding Trump's FCC's ruling, ending Net Neutrality, one more GOP senator needed for a majority.

A House majority is needed, unlikely with GOP control, legislation signed by Trump to become effective, a slim to no chance of that happening.

The other recourse is judicial, suing the FCC in federal courts, a battle yet to be waged. Lawsuits are coming to try restoring what Trump's FCC took away.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he's suing to reverse the FCC ruling, saying the agency "broke essentially all the rules of administrative procedure," adding:

"Agencies aren't just allowed to make any arbitrary decision. In fact, courts have held that if a decision is 'arbitrary and capricious'…it has to be rejected."

Other lawsuits are coming or perhaps already were filed. 

Free Press policy director Matt Wood said the FCC will have "to explain its headlong rush past all of the problems with its record in this proceeding."

They include around two million comments submitted under false names, along with tens of thousands of complaints vanishing from the agency's docket - rigging the procedure to end Net Neutrality, a hugely unpopular ruling.

It won't be easy undoing the damage. Battle lines are drawn. Digital democracy advocates intend going all-out to try.

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