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Democrats Hope Their "Save The Internet" Bill Will Restore Net Neutrality Laws, But It Faces An Uphill Battle

The bill would restore Obama-era protections that prohibited internet providers from charging "fast lane" premiums for services like Netflix and Facebook.

Last updated on March 6, 2019, at 1:21 p.m. ET

Posted on March 6, 2019, at 12:59 p.m. ET

House and Senate Democrats revealed legislation on Wednesday to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules, which have been undone during the Trump administration.

Called the “Save the Internet Act,” the bill represents the latest attempt by Democrats to restore protections that prohibit internet service providers from slowing websites or charging premiums for “fast lanes” for specific services or higher-quality streaming. In December 2017, the FCC voted to move forward with its plan to eliminate these rules. The charge was largely led by Republicans and longtime net neutrality critic Ajit Pai, who was nominated to his current role as FCC chair by President Trump.

Here’s the Save The Internet Act of 2019 that nearly every Senate Democrat joined me in introducing today. 3 pages that will restore #NetNeutrality. Let’s pass it and make the internet free and open again. #SaveTheNet

@SenMarkey / Twitter / Via Twitter: @SenMarkey

"This legislation brings the power of the internet to every corner of this country, from rural America and to our cities," Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during the bill's announcement. "A free and open internet is a pillar in creating opportunities."

While the bill is likely to pass easily in the House, now dominated by the Democrats, “Save the Internet” will still have to be voted through the Republican-controlled Senate, and could be ultimately vetoed by President Donald Trump.

Still, this has not stopped local governments from taking matters into their own hands on the issue. Several states, including Washington and California, signed their own net neutrality bills into law. State attorneys general across the country appealed the FCC’s decision. Consumer advocacy groups and tech companies alike publicly derided the rollback of net neutrality protections; many of them have even sued the FCC.

Some technology companies welcomed the debut of the "Save the Internet" bill.

Thank you to Members of Congress for introducing and supporting legislation today to restore strong #NetNeutrality protections for Internet users and innovators. 🙏 We look forward to continuing to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner on this critical Internet issue.

@Policy / Twitter

"Etsy sellers depend on strong net neutrality protections to compete online, which is why we applaud this new legislation,” Althea Erickson, Etsy’s head of advocacy, said in an emailed statement to BuzzFeed News. “We are hopeful other lawmakers will recognize how important this issue is to small and microbusinesses across the country, and will join the effort to protect and preserve a free and open internet.”

"We look forward to continuing to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner on this critical Internet issue," Twitter said.

Hearings on the bill will start next week.

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    Davey Alba is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. While working for BuzzFeed News, she won the 2019 Livingston Award for international reporting.

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