House Republicans Look to Block FCC Action on Net Neutrality

Republicans in the House of Representatives are attempting to limit the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ability to act on network neutrality.

On May 28, Representative Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced H.R. 4752, which would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reclassifying Internet service providers (ISP) as common carrier services. According to Latta, reclassification would result in heavy regulations for the industry, destroying competition and innovation.

Several House Members also attempted to attach an amendment to an appropriations bill blocking the FCC from issuing net neutrality rules. H.R. 5016, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriates Act, provides funding for several government agencies, but one amendment offered would have prohibited funding for the FCC to reclassify ISPs as common carriers.  The amendment did not pass.

EDUCAUSE is a part of a coalition of several other higher education and library associations that filed  net neutrality principles as well as formal comments with the FCC in relation to its efforts to reestablish net neutrality rules. Both submissions urged the FCC to address and protect the needs of higher education institutions and libraries in its deliberations and final rules. Recommended steps included barring paid prioritization, blocking of user access to lawful web content, and degradation of transmission speeds. The coalition’s comments stressed that the FCC has sufficient sources of legal authority to enact rules prohibiting such practices and discussed in particular how it might do so under the provisions of Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act.

The FCC’s open comment period is over, but EDUCAUSE and the other members of the coalition are considering how best to utilize the response comment period, which ends September 10, to further advance their position.