President Barack Obama is letting his stance on net neutrality be known, vowing to veto the H.R. 2666 Anti-Net Neutrality Bill should it reach the Oval Office.
The While House stated its opposition to the bill in a public letter, arguing that it has the potential to undermine "key provision in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Open Internet order," as well as harm "the Commission's ability to protect consumers while facilitating innovation and economic growth."
What is the H.R. 2666? Also known as the "No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act," the bill would prevent the FCC from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet access service. In other words, it would impede on the FCC's ability to enforce net neutrality and to protect broadband subscribers from overcharges and carrier abuse.
For his part, Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Commission, promised that such instances wouldn't occur during his time in office.
The bill is authored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who is backed by 19 cosponsors. Together, they argue that potential rate regulation will consistently increase the Internet Service Providers' (ISPs) uncertainty and could even discourage investment. They also expressed concerns over the sustainability of unique pricing layouts or service plans should the bill be rejected.
Conversely, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argues that the bill has the potential to hinder the FCC's efforts of protecting consumers against data carrier's abuses such as throttling, data caps and paid prioritization.
As an added note, one result of the bill passing would be the negation of the commission's power to stop ISPs from imposing certain services for free, such as freebie data streaming. In fact, the White house notes that that regulator would lose the authority to questions should they ever notice it occur, like it did last year.
"[It] would restrict the FCC's ability to take enforcement actions to protect consumers on issues where the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints," the White House said.
President Obama's declaration is simply another chapter in the continued debate over net neutrality, stemming from an incident last year when the FCC was taken to court in July by data carriers after it reclassified broadband Internet providers as "common carriers" under the Title II of the Communications Act. This resulted in the greater government control over big data carriers, which various ISPs say will hinder innovation and future investments.
A court decision could clarify the issue this spring, though it would hardly mean the end of the debate when it does. If the FCC wins, cable and telecom ventures can, and likely will, take the case to the Supreme Court.