House Republican members have just unveiled a budget proposal for 2017 that would tie the Federal Communications Commission’s hands on applying net neutrality rules at least for a short while.
The bill, which will also cut the commission’s budget by nearly $70 million, will put on hold any FCC initiatives to prevent telecoms from doing whatever they want until some court cases will set some precedents. And that could take several more years.
The proposal will also dismantle any attempts to open the market of TV set-top boxes for competition and end the existing monopolies. The Republican lawmakers want a study to be completed before the FCC takes any action related to the issue.
Additionally, the recent budget bill will prevent the regulation of broadband rates. Though the FCC pledged to not touch broadband prices, the recent piece of legislation includes so many cases in the term “rate regulation” that it could further hinder the regulatory panel from enforcing net neutrality rules.
For example, the commission won’t be able to investigate cases when carriers play with data caps to their own advantage. As a result, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be free to offer low caps and add exceptions that lure in more customers to their services.
If the bill manages to land on President Obama’s desk, he will probably veto it. Obama has said in March that he would veto another similar bill, H.R. 2666, and make sure that it won’t become a law as long as he is in charge.
Republicans pushed for another anti-neutrality bill earlier this year. According to Obama administration, H.R. 2666 was designed to undermine the FCC’s efforts to build an open internet for everybody, although its authors said that it would actually expand the current net neutrality rules.
H.R. 2666 also barred the FCC from regulating rates, and intervening when carriers throttled data, tweaked data caps, and demanded from rivals to pay for faster lanes. The bill’s author argued that FCC rules would just create “uncertainty for ISPs” and prevent them from further improving their services and creating unique pricing systems and service offers.
Net Neutrality has stirred hot debates between Republicans and Democrats, as the GOP sometimes tends to ally with telecoms especially in election years while Democrats have always been for a tighter government regulation of nearly every aspect of our lives including the Internet.
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