Tech Companies Urge Lawmakers To Stop Trying To Kill Net Neutrality With Sneaky Budget Bill Riders

from the sneaky-bastards dept

Since the FCC passed net neutrality rules last February, ISP allies in Congress have been working tirelessly to either gut the rules, or shame and defund the FCC so it can't enforce them. This has included an endless number of House "fact-finding" hearings that usually involve using discredited ISP data to claim the rules are demolishing the Internet. Of course the opposite appears to be true; network investment (at least in competitive areas) continues undaunted, and the rules have actually helped stop a lot of the anti-competitive shenanigans that were occurring on the streaming video front.

In addition to a parade of pointless, taxpayer-funded hearings, telecom's Congressional allies have spent months now trying to bury net neutrality rule-killing riders in an upcoming spending bill. The riders range in function from saddling the FCC with layers of often pointless new reporting requirements (out of a wink wink "love of transparency"), to prohibiting the FCC from enforcing the net neutrality rules until the telecom industry lawsuit is settled sometime next year.

And while all-too-many Silicon Valley companies and industry giants (**Google, cough**) remain mute and useless when it comes to publicly protecting net neutrality, a group of tech companies have written a letter to House and Senate leadership (pdf), urging them to keep their sneaky mouse print to themselves:
"We are writing to urge you to refrain from including riders relating to net neutrality and the Federal Communication Commission’s Open Internet Order in the upcoming omnibus spending legislation...Earlier this year, the House Appropriations Committee rushed to pass three net neutrality ­related riders, Sections 628­630. After the House’s action, several technology companies met with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the Senate to share how these riders are harmful to innovation and the thriving startup culture in the U.S."
The companies, which range from Kickstarter and Tumblr to Level 3 and Etsy, proceed to urge Congress to handle their grievances with net neutrality in "a more thoughtful and pragmatic approach, rather than in the often chaotic appropriations process." In other words, at least try to defeat net neutrality via the front door instead of sneaking around the back. The companies' pressure appears to have helped, as an updated version of the $1.1 trillion “omnibus” budget bill was tabled late in the week with all of the anti-neutrality language removed:
"After months of lobbying, Congress finally released its new budget proposal early Wednesday morning. The anti-net neutrality language does not appear in the 2009-page bill. A final vote is expected Friday, followed by President Obama’s signature..."This is a huge win,” Harold Feld, senior VP of DC-based advocacy group Public Knowledge, told Motherboard. “But the fight is not yet over until this is passed and signed.”
A total dismantling of net neutrality protections remains entirely possible; the most likely route to "victory" for net neutrality opponents is either by winning the industry lawsuit against the FCC, or by winning the 2016 elections and appointing a new FCC boss who'll immediately get to work gutting the rules.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: congress, funding, net neutrality, omnibus, omnibus bill
Companies: etsy, kickstarter, tumblr


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    connermac725 (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 4:46pm

    Re:

    they come out on the holidays because they hope everyone is in such a hurry to leave that they will just pass it and go home

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Advertisment

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.