House Passes Bill Attempting To Gut Net Neutrality, Supporters Declare The Internet Saved
from the up-is-down dept
As we’ve been discussing, the House has been pushing a new bill dubbed the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act” (pdf). As the name implies, the bill is being framed as a way to keep an “out of control” government from imposing new price caps on broadband, not coincidentally as the broadband industry increasingly eyes usage caps and overages to take advantage of a lack of sector competition. The bill has numerous problems, not least of which being that a special definition of “rate regulation” included in the bill would effectively prevent the FCC from doing, well, anything.
Of course despite these problems the House has passed the measure 241 to 173, with folks like Marsha Blackburn insisting she’s saved the day:
“We all know that what they’d like to do is regulate the Internet so they can tax the Internet, so they could then come in and set all the rates,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.”
With most people still not really even understanding what the Internet is, House supporters of the bill have great success in framing net neutrality as an attempt to tax the Internet. The primary pusher of the bill, Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, proudly proclaimed at his website that the net neutrality-killing bill would actually foster greater innovation and “better services” for consumers:
“Since its inception, the Internet has been free from rate regulation and has thrived under that model. Both Chairman Wheeler and President Obama assured Congress and the public that any regulations that were adopted under the open Internet order would refrain from allowing the federal government to regulate rates of broadband Internet access. H.R. 2666 codifies both the President?s and Chairman Wheelers? past promises and will allow innovative companies to do what they do best: create new products and better services to benefit consumers.”
Of course by gutting FCC authority over an un-competitive broadband market you’d obviously be doing the exact opposite, though given that AT&T is a top Kizinger donor, he’s apparently willing to overlook any concerns on that front. Fortunately the White House has stated it intends to veto this latest bill should it wind its way through the Senate, making the effort an entirely empty gesture — outside of it being a public oath of fealty to telecom campaign contributors.
As the EFF is quick to note, those who thought the neutrality fight was over last February when the FCC voted to approve the rules need to realize it’s going to take constant fighting and public attention to keep those rules in place. The Presidential election and the ongoing industry lawsuits against the FCC remain the biggest threat to the rules, though no limit of bills continue to be introduced that aim to cut neutrality off at the knees, usually under the guise of trying to save the Internet from “Internet populists” and a power-mad FCC.