Over 300,000 Internet Users Tune In as Net Neutrality Bill Clears Major Hurdle ‘Unscathed’

Digital rights group Fight for the Future said so many people were watching the hearing online that they “broke the counter”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-26-2019

“The eruption of grassroots support had an impact, and the bill passed the subcommittee vote without issue,” Fight for the Future said in a statement. (Image: Sen. Patty Murray/Twitter)

The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Tuesday passed the Save the Internet Act and overcame the telecom industry’s last-minute efforts to gut the bill—all as more than 300,000 internet users watched the proceedings throughout the day.

“So many people were watching an obscure subcommittee hearing on the Save the Net Act today that it broke the counter,” tweeted the digital rights group Fight for the Future.

The subcommittee vote came as major websites, individual internet users, and online communities all spread the livestream of the hearing across the web to stop telecom-backed lawmakers from weakening the Save the Internet Act.

“The eruption of grassroots support had an impact, and the bill passed the subcommittee vote without issue,” Fight for the Future, which spearheaded the online campaign, said in a statement. “In the end, only one amendment was introduced, and it was withdrawn after pushback from the majority, emboldened by the swell in activism.”

Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, told Vice that online attention on the hearing “really emboldened the Democrats and shored up the ones that were wobbling.”

The Save the Internet Act, “unscathed” by telecom amendments, now heads to the House Energy and Commerce Committee before reaching the full House for a vote as early as next month. If passed, the legislation would fully restore the net neutrality protections repealed by the Republican-controlled FCC in 2017.

“Net neutrality is coming back with a vengeance,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement. “Politicians are slowly learning that they can’t get away with shilling for big telecom anymore. We’re harnessing the power of the internet to save it, and any lawmaker who stands in our way will soon face the wrath of their constituents.”

In a statement, Candace Clement—campaign director at Free Press Action—applauded the House subcommittee for “taking the first step toward restoring net neutrality.”

“Support for this bill is growing every day, and it’s easy to see why,” Clement said.

According to Comparitech poll released last week, 80 percent of Americans—including 77 percent of Republicans—support net neutrality protections.

“Companies like Comcast, of course, don’t care about any of that. Industry lobbyists are resorting to their usual tricks to torpedo this bill,” Clement said. “We thank the subcommittee majority for rejecting any industry-friendly amendments that might have undermined the Save the Internet Act, and we call on lawmakers to keep listening to their constituents and moving a clean bill forward.”

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