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WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the House passed the 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The legislation includes numerous harmful policy riders, including three measures that significantly restrict the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to enforce its Open Internet Order. These riders would suspend the Net Neutrality rules until all legal challenges to them are resolved and hamper the FCC’s ability to investigate and prevent abuses from internet service providers.

Similar anti-Net Neutrality and anti-internet provisions passed through House and Senate appropriations committees in 2015, but open internet champions in both chambers negotiated their removal from the final spending bills. This year’s spending bill also includes provisions attacking the FCC’s media-ownership rules, its broadband-privacy initiative, and its efforts to unlock the cable set-top box market and give consumers more choices.

Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:

“The House leadership today continued its attack against the communications rights of all Americans. The appropriations bill is loaded with riders that roll back the FCC’s successful Net Neutrality rules, prevent the agency’s broadband privacy proposal from moving forward, and stall the cable-box reforms that Congress mandated two decades ago. In all three cases, the FCC is following the pro-consumer and pro-competition laws that Congress passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis. But representatives like Paul Ryan, Greg Walden and Marsha Blackburn will use any trick they can to enable cable companies to discriminate, price-gouge and exploit people’s most private information.

“Millions of people called on the FCC to stop cable companies from blocking and throttling websites and apps. Since the FCC passed Net Neutrality protections in February 2015, hundreds of thousands more have urged Congress to reject these kinds of riders, and to let the FCC protect internet users from blocking, discrimination, data collection and other abusive practices that companies like Comcast like to engage in. The courts have upheld the FCC’s approach.

“Most Republicans in Congress are happy to ignore such widespread public and legal support for an open, secure and affordable internet. While the anti-Net Neutrality riders proved too toxic to make it into the final budget deal last year, certain representatives keep trying to undermine these and other common-sense safeguards.

“The Free Press Action Fund would like to thank House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representatives Anna Eshoo, Frank Pallone and Jose Serrano for standing strong against these toxic riders.

“Republicans in Congress need to stop listening to phone and cable company lobbyists and abandon their assault on the open internet. President Obama has already come out against this disastrous appropriations bill because it’s filled with poison-pill riders. These riders attack not only internet users and the FCC, but agencies promoting positive measures in other areas. The representatives behind these riders need to grow up and stop playing games with budget bills.”

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