The U.S. House of Representatives voted 241 to 173 for the passing of H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act.
The bill has the potential to block or severely limit FCC's actions in enforcing net neutrality laws.
In theory, the bill is supposed to keep the FCC from regulating prices imposed by broadband data carriers on their customers. As the net neutrality rules went live in 2015, the agency made clear that it will not use its authority to force providers to certain data tariffs.
This seems like a positive idea, but the devil hides in the details.
The bill is phrased in such a way that it leaves room to interpretation. One possible reading could actually have FCC bound hand and foot from backing users' rights. The best case scenario is that the H.R. 2666 will deliver unknown and legally attackable consequences. The worst case scenario is far bleaker: the bill could be a premeditated action to sabotage the net neutrality principles that the tech community, open Internet groups and regulators strived for during the last years.
Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, commended the lower chamber's decision as he views the passing of the bill as a way to protect the Internet freedom of the American citizens.
"There is no authority or need for the federal government to regulate the Internet," Ryan says.
He went on to add that the Congress's action was paramount in maintaining the Internet as "a free market." In Ryan's view, passing the bill ensures that unelected bureaucrats in Washington are kept away from "dictating how people use the Internet."
Tom Wheeler, the leader of the FCC, warned that the bill will have nefarious effects on the broadband market. According to him, the bill makes it impossible for the Commission to penalize ISPs that make use of blocking, throttling and paid prioritization rules.
For the bill to take effect it has to check two more phases. First off, it has to pass the Senate's vote. Then, the bill will reach the White House for the final signature.
President Barack Obama recently swore that the bill will get a veto from him. Just as a reminder, Obama's mandate ends in January 2017.