Why Net Neutrality Will Be A Campaign Issue in 2018

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Now that the Federal Communications Commission has jettisoned its rules banning internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against lawful content, the issue is heading for Congress. And if the activists who first brought the issue into the limelight have a say, it will become an issue in the 2018 election campaign. Sen Edward Markey (D-MA) already announced plans to introduce a joint resolution to reverse the FCC's decision. Several advocacy groups, including Demand Progress, Free Press, and Fight for the Future are calling on Congress to pass it. It's a long shot: both houses of Congress and the president would need to sign on. But letting net neutrality die is politically risky for Republicans, some of whom are pushing for scaled-back consumer protections to replace the FCC’s rules. The idea of net neutrality is popular with voters. Democrats and advocacy groups are already using internet-policy decisions as political weapons against Republicans. The targets included Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who is now running for the Senate. "I think it could become, not a top-three issue, but a salient issue in 2018," says Sara Solow, who served as a domestic policy adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign. "Democrats are riled up about it, the base understands the issue, and while the general public may not understand all the particulars, the general public gets that they should have uninhibited access to the internet," Solow says. The big question is not whether it will come up, but how much spotlight the issue will receive. Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute think tank doubts net neutrality will get much airtime compared with taxes, sexual misconduct, and healthcare, unless one or more big internet providers changes its offerings in response to the change in the rules.


Why Net Neutrality Will Be A Campaign Issue in 2018