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Net neutrality gets a thumbs-up from US senators, but it still looks doomed

Scheduled to disappear on June 11, the rules have become a political flashpoint.

The good news: The US Senate voted to overturn a December decision by the Federal Communications Commission to scrap Obama-era “net neutrality” rules, which prevent internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast from blocking or slowing down selected web traffic. Ars Technica  reports that three Republican senators voted along with Democrats today to support the rules.

The bad news: The House of Representatives will now vote on the issue, and the Republican majority there isn’t inclined to slap down the FCC. If, by some miracle, the vote turns out to be in favor of net neutrality, President Trump could still veto Congress’s attempt to stop its demise.

Why this matters: Unwinding net neutrality will be toxic for innovation in America because large companies with deep pockets can easily pay for faster traffic, leaving startups at a disadvantage. The ISPs say they’ll self-regulate, but don’t hold your breath. The temptation to profit from two-speed systems—and to favor their own web content over that of rivals—will be too strong for them to resist.


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Illustration by Rose Wong

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