A new $US1.1 trillion budget bill has excluded Republican-backed efforts to block implementation of the US FCC's open internet rules, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported earlier this week. The government spending bill's summary — a hefty 2009 pages long — was posted online early this morning, but there's zero anti-net neutrality language. That's a a very good thing.
Republicans in Washington have been pushing for months to weave in provisions against the FCC's plans to preserve net neutrality. The GOP argue that the plan would limit innovation and competition among internet companies, despite the fact that the rules are designed to do the opposite. So, they wanted to keep the FCC from regulating service rates and to withhold funding that would help the FCC implement open-internet rules. Ars Technica points out that tech companies and Democrats alike have opposed such provisions.
Meanwhile, it's clear that Americans are concerned about how the internet works and especially how big telecom companies are enforcing their power. This week, news emerged that some 13,000 customers have complained to the FCC about the data caps the company is currently testing. This is on top of thousands of complaints about American ISP Comcast throttling bandwidth that flowed in earlier this year. The FCC's open internet rules explicitly forbid data throttling.
A final vote on the spending package should go down by the end of this week, then it's off to the White House for President Obama's signature.
Top art by Michael Hession