Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives banded together to block the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing Net Neutrality rules. The lawmakers added a new amendment to a spending bill that prohibits the FCC from using Federal funds to enforce the rules it enacted in hopes of preventing broadband service providers from throttling back network access for some types of content.
GOP members argued that the FCC’s rules overstep the agency’s bounds, and stifle innovation and industry growth. “Why would you put the government in charge of the Internet?” said House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman and Representative Fred Upton (R, MI), according to the Wall Street Journal.
The idea behind the new FCC rules is to prevent carriers from blocking or slowing down data from companies that offer competing services, and from charging companies fees for providing faster access to their content. The rules are more restrictive for wired, or land line-based, Internet access, and give wireless Internet access providers some room to control data on their networks.
By blocking funding, the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules become useless because there won’t be any means of enforcement should service providers fail to comply.
“Without some clear rules of the road, large companies can carve up the Internet into fast and slow lanes, charging a toll for content and blocking innovators from entering the information superhighway,” commented Representative Anna Eshoo (D, CA).
Simply adding the amendment to the spending bill doesn’t mean the FCC’s funding for Net Neutrality enforcement will be blocked, just that it could be. The bill will likely see more changes before becoming law, and both Democrats and Republicans will be looking for ways to massage its language.