Democrats vs. Republicans: the Battle for Net Neutrality

Net neutrality today is a hotter topic than ever, and, as usual, the two main political parties of the United States have staked opposite sides in the struggle.

The issue of net neutrality has been controversial since the birth of the World Wide Web. Those in favor of regulated neutrality, including the World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee, maintain that neutrality is crucial to the continued success of the web. The basic principle of net neutrality is that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all websites equally, without favoring any sources of information over others.

The invention of the World Wide Web ushered in a new era of freedom of and expression, and much of this innovation was due to net neutrality. For the first time, anyone around with world with web access could exchange information and share their thoughts and ideas with anyone else around the world.

Today, that system is in danger. While net neutrality in the US used to be protected by the FCC, those regulations were recently overturned in federal court. Now ISPs are legally able to manipulate and censor web traffic by slowing down or blocking access to certain websites. Some ISPs have already taken advantage of that power, like when AT&T censored a live streaming Pearl Jam performance, or when Comcast blocked file transfers that used file-sharing software like Bittorrent.

Since the federal court struck down net neutrality, politicians in the US have been arguing both sides. While Democrats argue for regulating ISPs to ensure that every site is treated equally, Republicans argue that regulations will stifle investment income and prevent ISPs from making money. The fight for net neutrality has led to a standoff today, with the American people being divided on either side of the issue.

Net neutrality is an issue that affects the future of the entire Internet and the freedom of information exchange. If you want to do your part in fighting for Internet freedom, start by learning about the history of this struggle below, and how you can take a stand and make a difference.

Dems vs GOP - Net Neutrality

Democrats vs. Republicans: the Battle for Net Neutrality

The future of the internet is at stake. The US government is embroiled in a tug-of-war over net neutrality. But how will this battle end?

Democrats

Party

Republicans

1792

Founded in

1854

Franklin D Roosevelt

John F Kennedy

Barack Obama

Notable members

Abraham Lincoln

Theodore Roosevelt

Ronald Reagan

Women’s suffrage

Organized labor

The New Deal

Civil Rights

Pivotal party moments

Abolition of slavery

Laissez-faire capitalism

Civil Rights

199

Seats in Congress

233

53

Seats in Senate

45

For

Stance on Net Neutrality

Against

All internet traffic should be treated equally – and government is there to ensure it.

Main argument

Net neutrality will restrict the free market – and government shouldn’t intervene in an already open internet.

The Battle So Far

“ is a necessary response to verifiable instances of ISPs discriminating against users based on the applications they use .”

—Senator Al Franken 

February 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

$7.2 billion investment is set aside for broadband infrastructure – with a stipulation on openness.

Win for: Democrats

“These new regulatory mandates and restrictions could stifle investment incentives.”

—Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

“If Congress can’t act, the FCC must.”

—Congressman Henry Waxman

December 2010

FCC’s Open Internet Order

Blocking and unreasonable discrimination of web access is prohibited.

Win for: Democrats

“This would harm investment, stifle innovation, and lead to job losses.”

—Senator Mitch McConnell

“Without net neutrality there would be nothing to prevent ISPs from charging users a premium in order to use the fast lane.”

—Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller IV

November 2011

Net neutrality repeal blocked

House Republicans push for a net neutrality ban but Senate Democrats win a vote preventing the ban passing.

Win for: Democrats

“The internet has been the cradle of innovation, it does not have a problem, and it does not need fixing.”

—Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

“This decision threatens network neutrality standards that help internet entrepreneurs compete on a level playing field with established companies.”

—Senator Tom Udall

January 2014

Net neutrality rule overturned

DC Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down the FCC’s Open Internet Order.

Win for: Republicans

“This decision sends a strong message to federal agencies that may attempt to direct by regulation that which is not authorized by Congress.”

—Congressman John McCain

“Our bill ensures that consumers can continue to access the content and applications of their online choosing.”

—Congressman Henry Waxman

February 2014

Open Internet Preservation Act

Democrats introduce bill to reinstate net neutrality rules.

Win for: Democrats

“Federal control of the internet will restrict our online freedom.”

—Congressman Marsha Blackburn

“Sanctioning paid prioritization would allow discrimination and irrevocably change the internet as we know it.”

—Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

May 2014

FCC proposes new Open Internet rule

All pay-for-priority deals are against the rule until a company can prove it has a legitimate reason for prioritizing traffic.

Win for: neither

‘No block’ rule now revived under new legal justification but ISPs can still charge for ‘fast lane’ access.

“The Obama administration refuses to abandon its furious pursuit of these harmful policies to put government in charge of the web.”

—Congressman Greg Walden and Congressman Fred Upton

Until the government defines what ISPs can and cannot do, the future of the free and open internet remains in jeopardy.

But what do the US people want?

  • For net neutrality: 55%
  • Against net neutrality: 45%

Sources

  • Democrats Introduce Open Internet Preservation Act to Restore Net Neutrality – techcrunch.com
  • Republicans Claim Victory in Net Neutrality Ruling – thehill.com
  • Republican Platform Opposes Net Neutrality by Supporting ‘Internet Freedom’ – theverge.com
  • Poll: Majority of Americans Support Net Neutrality (If They Know What It Is) – venturebeat.com
  • Democrats Introduce Bill to Restore FCC’S Net-Neutrality Rules – truth-out.org
  • Democratic Party – ritannica.com
  • Our History: GOP – gop.com
  • Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present – senate.gov
  • Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives – clerk.house.gov
  • Congressional Democrats Jump into Net Neutrality Mix – politico.com
  • Democratic Leaders Introduce Net Neutrality Legislations – democrats.energcommerce.house.gov
  • FCC Chair’S Proposed Net Neutrality Rule Not Popular at Congressional Hearing – consumerist.com
  • Democratic Senators Block Republican-Led Net Neutrality Repeal – dailytech.com
  • FCC Plans to Issue New ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules – online.wsj.com
  • Republicans Will Try to Kill New Net-Neutrality Rules – nationaljournal.com
  • No One’S Neutral About Net Neutrality – keynote.com
  • Republicans to Push Against Net Neutrality; FCC Says Start of Process – voices.washingtonpost.com
  • Remarks on Net Neutrality – franken.senate.gov
  • Net Neutrality Rules Will Not Be Overturned, Senate Ruling Asserts – huffingtonpost.com
  • McConnell Blasts “Flawed” Net Neutrality Rules – time.com
  • F.C.C. Backs Opening Net Neutrality Rules for Debate – nytimes.com

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