Net Neutrality Faces Extinction In New GOP House Budget Bill

Nick Younker - Author

Dec. 27 2017, Updated 3:10 a.m. ET

Net neutrality has long been the reason that consumers in the U.S. have such readily available access to the loads of data and information on the internet. But a new bill proposed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would essentially gut the FCC to the point that it will have no power to enforce its rules on net neutrality.

The reason for this, according to Engadget, is that the Republican Party has long been a fierce opponent of regulation over the telecom companies who want to offer up their internet services in tiers, essentially allowing only upper class Americans who can afford it the opportunity to surf the internet and access all major data streams.

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If the GOP gets their way, then the FCC would no longer have the budget necessary to enforce their current rules that police telecom companies who have a habit of capping data for certain customers, and they would also not be allowed to police those telecom companies who would offer up their internet services in tiers that would only stand to benefit the upper class.

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What net neutrality essentially does is allow users of any class to access, stream, and consume data at the same rate as all other users. But if net neutrality is not enforced, then telecom companies could essentially offer up larger data streams to customers who are willing to pay the most. That essentially cancels out the ability of the middle and lower class to access certain large data streams, such as Netflix and iTunes, and frees up bandwidth for wealthier consumers so they can have a buffer-free experience with their internet entertainment.

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The current version of the GOP Budget Bill also outlaws the FCC, or even local municipalities, from attempting to regulate any telecom companies in any area, let alone under the mandates set forth by net neutrality.

The GOP Budget Bill also strips $69 million from the FCC, meaning that they would not be able to enforce net neutrality if there were complaints or issues that would arise. Think about it this way: If you live in a city that has laws against public indecency, and the GOP passed a Budget Bill that would strip the money from local police, they would not have enough money to pay their police to arrest people who break that law. The GOP Budget Bill essentially does just that, except with the FCC and net neutrality.

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But if the GOP is going to pass a budget bill that affects net neutrality, they cannot stop just there. The new GOP Budget Bill for 2017 would also prevent the FCC from taking action against any attempts by manufacturers to suppress competition on set top boxes as well.

This might seem like a far-fetched agenda by a modern political establishment, but nevertheless, it is still happening with net neutrality.

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But here is the upside to all of this net neutrality controversy that the GOP is trying to dismantle. Even though the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will pass the 2017 Budget Bill, President Obama still has to sign it in order for it to go into effect. The GOP-controlled House also tried this last year, but President Obama vetoed it and the bill fell into oblivion. There is a good chance that President Obama will veto the budget bill again this year as well.

Net neutrality still has a few things on its side that could keep it safe from the GOP-controlled House (and Senate). The government’s fiscal year starts in October, which means Obama has until then to veto the bill. But that would leave the door wide open in October next year, which, depending on who takes the White House in November, could leave net neutrality vulnerable again.

[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]


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