By Amy Kroin, Free Press
“Maybe every so often we can be on the side of the American people,” Rep. Jose Serrano said, “and not corporations.”
Those are fighting words — but unfortunately the House majority doesn’t seem to be heeding them. Not when it comes to Net Neutrality.
This afternoon the House appropriations committee voted against two amendments — one from Serrano, one from Rep. Nita Lowey — to remove anti-Net Neutrality language from a must-pass government-funding package.
The anti-Net Neutrality provisions — buried deep within this 158-page bill — would strip the FCC of the money it needs to enforce its open Internet protections. The provisions would also prevent the rules from remaining in effect until after the court cases challenging them have been decided — a process that could take years.
“You’re not supposed to legislate in an appropriations bill,” Serrano said, noting that a federal court had already rejected an attempt from the cable, phone and wireless lobbies to delay implementation of the rules.
But in spite of the overwhelming support for the open Internet— support that spans the political spectrum — some members of Congress are determined to destroy the historic FCC protections that millions of people lobbied for.
“Blocking Net Neutrality means blocking the open Internet,” Serrano said. “My colleagues are trying to give corporations more freedom … while putting more restrictions on individual citizens.”
Indeed, members of Congress who are in the pocket of the big Internet service providers don’t care about listening to the public on this matter. They don’t care about the process the FCC followed to allow public comment on its proposal. They simply want to shut down the open Internet and carve it up into fast and slow lanes.
In the run-up to the vote a coalition of more than 60 digital rights and social justice groups urged the chairman and ranking member of the House appropriations committee to remove the anti-Net Neutrality riders (only the ranking member — Rep. Lowey, a longtime Net Neutrality proponent — listened).
Among the letter’s signers are the Free Press Action Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange.org, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Media Action Grassroots Network, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge and Writers Guild of America West. Other signers include the American Library Association, the Association of Free Community Papers and Etsy.
The funding package is inching closer to a vote before the full House, but there’s still time for members to remove the anti-Net Neutrality provisions. Call Congress before it’s too late.