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Republican budget proposal would gut net neutrality

Engadget Engadget 25/05/2016 Jon Fingas
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It's no secret that the Republican Party hates net neutrality regulation, but it's now ready to raise the stakes. House GOP members have drafted a 2017 budget proposal that would neuter some of the FCC's bigger telecom initiatives, at least for a while. On top of cutting the FCC's budget by $69 million, it would prevent the FCC from enforcing its net neutrality rules until some court cases wind down -- which, knowing the legal system, could take years. You could also forget about short-term attempts to open up competition for TV set-top boxes, as the legislation would prevent the FCC from taking action on its set-top rule until a study finishes.

There's more: the bill would also ban attempts at regulating broadband rates. While the FCC is okay with keeping its hands off of regular pricing, the GOP proposal would have such a broad definition of rate regulation that it would hamper the FCC's net neutrality practices. It would prevent the Commission from looking into unfair data cap practices, for instance. In theory, carriers would be free to use low caps and exceptions to steer you toward their services while making like difficult for all the others.

It's entirely possible that President Obama could veto the bill given that the US government's fiscal year starts in October, assuming it gets the necessary votes. The House unsuccessfully tried a similar move last year. However, it won't be surprising if supporters keep pushing. Net neutrality has long been a hot-button issue for anti-regulation forces, and telecom campaign money (the House Appropriations Committee chair received $25,500) is bound to motivate those opponents.

House Committee on Appropriations, (PDF)

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