A move made by the U.S. Senate has become a landmark win for net neutrality: the legislative body voted on Feb. 11 to ban taxes on Internet access, keeping the medium an equal-opportunity resource for millions nationwide. The vote, which passed 75-20, will now move on to the final stage of the legislation process: into the hands of President Barack Obama for approval.
The Senate was the second of three gatekeepers set in place for turning the bill into law: like the Senate, the House already passed the measure, which means that the only thing keeping the ban from becoming law is the lack of President Obama's signature. The POTUS is expected to officialize the law-to-be sometime within the near future.
While the impetus of the bill is to neutralize access by keeping it exempt from taxation, some pointed out a noticeable absence in the legislation: taxation of online retailers, which would hold companies like Apple and Amazon accountable for paying sales taxes — the same as non-digital physical stores. While the caveat was missing from this particular bill, lawmakers said that they plan to address it in the near future, even as soon as this summer.
As reported by CNN, some of the senators involved in the vote spoke about the reasoning behind their stances, and shared their thoughts on the results.
"Right now most Americans pay $0 in taxes to connect to the Internet," said Oregon Democratic senator Ron Wyden. "And thanks to a bill that passed today, you will never have to pay taxes just to get online, or pay more taxes for goods and services just because they're bought online."
Others, like Republican senator Lamar Alexander, inferred the legislative measure was restrictive to U.S. citizens.
"The federal government shouldn't be telling the states what their tax structure should be," he said.
Despite the words of detractors, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of the Senate supported the measure, and that, unless the future law is overturned in some distant scenario, it looks like net neutrality is here to stay.
Photo: Cliff | Flickr