House passes defunding of Net neutrality rules

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an amendment to its annual government funding bill that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from using any funds to implement the Net neutrality rules it approved last year.

The FCC voted in December to create a set of rules that, among other things, prohibit wired Internet service providers from blocking or unreasonably discriminating against legal content, applications and services. They also include a requirement to disclose information about their network management practices and a mechanism for consumers and content providers to complain about violations. Some of the rules are less restrictive for mobile operators.

House Republicans have attacked the FCC rules as unnecessary and said the agency overstepped its authority. The amendment, which passed late Thursday, was sponsored by Republican Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon. It would not rescind the new rules but would ban the FCC from using any of its budget to carry them out during the current fiscal year. The amendment was attached to H.R. 1, the continuing resolution that defines how the federal government will spend its money during the fiscal year.

After the Republican-controlled House has passed H.R. 1, it will go on to the Democrat-controlled Senate, which could reject Walden’s amendment. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the spending bill will need to be resolved before it goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Walden, chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, has also proposed a more permanent action against the agency’s Net neutrality rules, which would rescind the rules themselves.

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