Press Release

Public Knowledge Opposes House Bill Dismantling FCC Net Neutrality Rules

April 15, 2016 , , ,

Today, the House of Representative approved H.R. 2666, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act” by a vote of 241-173. Public Knowledge has testified in opposition to the bill in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and has repeatedly noted that the bill goes far beyond simply banning rate regulation, threatening the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules and jeopardizing the agency’s consumer protection capabilities.

The following statement can be attributed to Chris Lewis, Vice President of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:

“The partisan rush to pass this bill, and the public support of the broadband industry, shows that the intent of H.R. 2666 goes far beyond simply preventing rate regulation. Statements by House members made it clear that proponents view this as a way to dial back on the FCC’s popular Open Internet Order. Even in the face of a veto threat, this partisan bill has been pushed forward. Senator Ted Cruz has mischaracterized net neutrality rules as “ObamaCare for the internet”. Now GOP members seem set on giving net neutrality the ObamaCare treatment with repeated votes to undermine it, with no chance of agreement from the President.

“This bill redefines ‘rate regulation’ to mean any action that involves a rate, not simply the setting of a rate as is understood today by the general public and even the Supreme Court. This bill goes beyond the forbearances of the Wheeler-led FCC to eliminate the ability for the FCC to even review the reasonableness of a rate. It is an invitation to monopoly level rates by ISPs, since few Americans have more than one or two choices for high speed broadband.

“The prohibition in H.R. 2666 targets the power of the FCC to maintain an open internet as well as enforcing basic consumer protections. The bill will also prevent the FCC from reviewing merger agreements to provide low-cost broadband to low-income Americans. It will even prevent the FCC from investigating discriminatory data caps or making decisions around pay-for-privacy schemes in its privacy rules.

“This bill is not necessary, and beyond that it’s dangerous for consumers. It gives Cable and big ISPs the power to change the internet as we know it, setting themselves up as gatekeepers. The Senate should reject it, as the President has.”

For more information on this bill, please read our recent blog post, “The Emperor’s New Clothes: ‘Rate Regulation’ as an Excuse to Gut FCC Consumer Protection Authority” and article, “The One Line Difference Between Broadband Rate Setting and Price Gouging.” You can also view our letter, signed by 50 public interest groups, opposing the bill.