Pointless US Congress net neutrality vote will take place tomorrow!

Democrats making a difference the only way they know how to

After weeks of teasing, Senate Democrats will finally take decisive action on bringing back net neutrality to America on Wednesday – by holding a pointless vote.

"BREAKING," yelled Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) on Twitter. "The Senate's vote to save Net Neutrality will take place this Wednesday, May 16th. Keep raising your voices for the free and open internet. The fight is on!"

Of course Congress defines "fight" a little differently to you and I.


Date engraved onto net neutrality tombstone: June 11, 2018


Telling people several weeks in advance that you intend to run in a brick wall, then telling them you'll run into the wall next Wednesday, then changing your mind, then saying at some point next week you'll run into the wall, and then finally announcing that this Wednesday you'll run into the brick wall – doesn't normally constitute a fight in the wider world.

But the big plus, Democrats and net neutrality advocates tell us, is that we will be able to see who is cheering on the wall-charging effort and who is either opposed or indifferent to someone smashing their face into a solid vertical structure.

You just have to ignore the fact that we already know who is pro and anti wall-smashing.

Plus there is an outside chance that overnight someone might decide to dismantle the wall, revealing another wall behind, so we would all be able to celebrate the fact that there is one less wall that we can fail to knock down.

At the heart of the pointless vote is a resolution that would reverse the FCC's efforts to reverse its own rules covering net neutrality.


It uses the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which was an obscure piece of legislation passed in 1996 that had been used only once in 2001 before it became de rigeur for Republicans in 2017 as loophole legislation to reverse recent decisions by the Obama Administration.

The CRA has been used no less than 17 times in the past year and has now become one of Congress' favorite stupid tools to entrench partisan politics.

So on top of holding a vote it already knows it will lose, Democrats are trying to use a piece of legislation that has been repeatedly abused and so throw away any claim to a political higher ground while achieving nothing.

Of course this being net neutrality and 2018, there is even a meta argument that even if the CRA resolution vote passed – which it won't – that it wouldn't count (an eight-page "legal analysis" [PDF] no less).

The claim is that the FCC's rule repealing net neutrality rules isn't actually a "rule" and so the CRA would have no effect. Which is another layer of nonsense on top of an already pretty-thick nonsense cake.

But even though everyone knows it won't pass, the fact that it only requires one additional vote to pass the Senate has led to seemingly endless commentary pieces on how it actually might pass because it only needs one vote.

In much the same way that a baseball team only needs one more point to win, or a soccer team only have to score one more goal.


And then, the endless commentary continues, if it did pass the Senate it would be in for a much "tougher time" passing the House – which means, simply, that it wouldn't pass.

And then it would really hit a hurdle with President Trump who wouldn't sign it either. But let's keep talking about it anyway.

Because in the mid-terms, it is possible that there will be a blue wave and Democrats will take back the House (although they won't). And then Trump might get impeached (but won't).

And so, you see, it is possible that if several extremely unlikely things happen that it might be possible to get back net neutrality rules. And that would really rub their noses in it.

So let's not stop fighting! Let's keep on using up endless hours arguing for something that won't happen for no reason other than we want it to.

And when we fail, we can get upset with the people that stopped it – even though they made it abundantly clear they wouldn't allow it – and we can use that anger to build up support for the next pointless endeavor.

Because that is how you govern. One Sisyphean task at a time. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading
  • Cloud security unicorn cuts 20% of staff after raising $1.3b
    Time to play blame bingo: Markets? Profits? Too much growth? Russia? Space aliens?

    Cloud security company Lacework has laid off 20 percent of its employees, just months after two record-breaking funding rounds pushed its valuation to $8.3 billion.

    A spokesperson wouldn't confirm the total number of employees affected, though told The Register that the "widely speculated number on Twitter is a significant overestimate."

    The company, as of March, counted more than 1,000 employees, which would push the jobs lost above 200. And the widely reported number on Twitter is about 300 employees. The biz, based in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2015.

    Continue reading
  • Talos names eight deadly sins in widely used industrial software
    Entire swaths of gear relies on vulnerability-laden Open Automation Software (OAS)

    A researcher at Cisco's Talos threat intelligence team found eight vulnerabilities in the Open Automation Software (OAS) platform that, if exploited, could enable a bad actor to access a device and run code on a targeted system.

    The OAS platform is widely used by a range of industrial enterprises, essentially facilitating the transfer of data within an IT environment between hardware and software and playing a central role in organizations' industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) efforts. It touches a range of devices, including PLCs and OPCs and IoT devices, as well as custom applications and APIs, databases and edge systems.

    Companies like Volvo, General Dynamics, JBT Aerotech and wind-turbine maker AES are among the users of the OAS platform.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022