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Groups Want Congress To Stop Net Neutrality "Sneak Attack"

Dozens of organizations want Congress to remove a rider in its budget bill they claim would block the FCC from implementing net neutrality rules. Photo credit: Sean MacEntee/Flickr Commons.
Dozens of organizations want Congress to remove a rider in its budget bill they claim would block the FCC from implementing net neutrality rules. Photo credit: Sean MacEntee/Flickr Commons.
June 25, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – More than 60 civil rights and public interest groups have sent a letter urging Congress to protect the Federal Communications Commission's decision to keep the Internet open.

They're protesting a rider attached to a must-pass government-funding package.

Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy for the open media group Free Press, says the provisions, buried inside a spending bill 150 pages long, would take away money the FCC needs to enforce net neutrality rules.

"This is one of the more sneaky ways to do it, is to actually slip a couple lines of language into a budget appropriations bill," he states.

Advocates claim that by eliminating the FCC's ability to protect net neutrality, the appropriations bill would have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights and the economy.

The American Library Association, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation were among the groups sending the letter.

In February, the FCC responded to nearly 4 million public comments with a decision to protect the fundamental openness of the Internet – no fast lanes for corporations and slow lanes for average citizens.

Karr says since the ruling, an entrenched phone and cable lobby has worked to punish the FCC in the courts and now in Congress.

"The public, on the issue of net neutrality, has been overwhelmingly in favor of open Internet protections,” he stresses. “So we're seeing the backlash of that decision."

Karr adds that the funding package is inching closer to a vote before the full House, but there's still time for members to remove the provisions.


Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV