(COMMON DREAMS) Jessica Corbett, August 29, 2018 — More than 100 Democrats in Congress, led by Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), are formally backing a federal lawsuit to restore net neutrality protections that the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed last year.
“Whether in the halls of Congress or the halls of the courts, the fight for net neutrality is the fight for our online future, and we will prevail.”
—Sen. Ed Markey
A total of 27 U.S. senators and 76 members of the House of Representatives filed an amicus brief (pdf) with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals asserting that the repeal order amounted to “an abuse of discretion,” and was “inconsistent with the plain language” of federal legislation that subjected internet service providers (ISPs) to Title II regulations.
“Both the plain language and congressional intent behind the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that Congresswoman Eshoo and I helped author make clear that today, broadband access to the internet is a telecommunications service,” explained Markey, who also spearheaded a measure in Congress to restore the consumer protection rules.
Although net neutrality campaigners maintain that Markey’s Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, which narrowly passed the Senate earlier this year, is the best way to reverse the FCC’s order, so far the measure has only gained the support of one Republican in the House.
“Whether in the halls of Congress or the halls of the courts, the fight for net neutrality is the fight for our online future, and we will prevail,” Markey optimistically declared Wednesday. He charged that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the Republican commissioners “are on the wrong side of history,” and ignored the intent of the 1996 law when they “reclassified broadband back to an information service and eviscerated net neutrality rules.”
The Telecommunications Act “was written to be technologically neutral and forward-looking,” added Eshoo. “It was established that there would always be a cop on the beat to protect the public in communications, regardless of advances in technology.”
Describing the internet as “one of the greatest inventions in human history,” she emphasized that “it’s our responsibility to protect it as a force to drive innovation, expand our economy, and promote free speech and our democracy.”