“The fight is coming to the courts, to Congress, and even to the 2018 election.”
The fiercest advocates for net neutrality are readying a new war in the nation’s capital, hoping to restore the rules that the Trump administration just eliminated — and galvanize a new generation of younger, web-savvy voters in the process.
Not even a month after the Federal Communications Commission voted to scrap its requirement that internet providers treat all web traffic equally, an armada of tech startups, consumer activists and state attorneys general are preparing to take the agency to court.
The expected, early challengers include crafts marketplace Etsy, which confirmed to Recode this week that it would soon sue the FCC. Lobbying groups representing companies like Facebook and Google also plan to intervene in some fashion.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are angling to force Congress to debate the future of net neutrality rules. Even if they fail, they have another goal in mind: They hope to turn net neutrality into a political rallying cry, mobilizing droves of young voters to cast ballots during the 2018 election, when the composition of the U.S. Capitol is up for grabs.
“From my perspective, I think it’s a very powerful issue,” Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat leading the charge, told Recode. “The Republicans are on the wrong side of history. And there is a very high political price to pay for those who are on the wrong side of history.”
“I’ve never seen an issue that is so compelling for teenagers,” added his peer from Hawaii, Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz, in a later interview. “And that’s why I believe that we’re going to win on this eventually. Because you can’t find a kid on Instagram … who’s not angry about what [the FCC] just did to the internet.”
“They may not understand every nuance of the policy but they know net neutrality is what they have now, and they know it was just taken away,” Schatz continued. “And they know it was the Republicans.”