Internet Companies Urge FCC to Save Net Neutrality Rules

The trade association representing major Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon said that they continue to have “vigorous support” for the existing net neutrality rules, after meeting with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai earlier this week.

Michael Beckerman, the president and CEO of the Internet Association, and Abigail Slater, its general counsel, met with Pai on Tuesday.

Pai reportedly is considering a plan that would scale back the FCC’s existing net neutrality rules, by replacing them with a set of voluntary principles that ISPs would agree to as part of their service terms. The FCC’s designation of Internet service as a common carrier would be eliminated, and enforcement would shift to the Federal Trade Commission.

Internet providers, in agreeing to the principles, would vow not to block or slow traffic, but public interest groups say that it would fall far short of the robust set of rules that the FCC adopted in 2015.

While the Internet Association said that it believes that “existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact,” they did seem to leave some leeway when it comes to regulatory maneuvering. Pai would have the votes to reverse the net neutrality order, and there has been some talk of a congressional compromise that would reverse the classification of Internet service as a common carrier.

In their filing, The Internet Association also said that “consumers want and need their internet experience preserved and protected, regardless of the legal or regulatory mechanism.

“While IA continues its work to protect consumers by maintaining existing FCC rules, its primary focus is on the end result – meaningful net neutrality rules that withstand the test of time.”

The trade group outlined a set of “first principles,” outlining what a set of rules should include. The association said that they should be enforced by the FCC, that they ban the selling of “fast-lanes” on the Internet, and that they apply to wireless and wireline providers.

The association also addressed the issue of interconnection, which has been a flashpoint between ISPs and major Internet companies. Netflix in particular has been concerned that major ISPs will establish a lucrative revenue stream by charging content companies to deliver their content traffic to their subscribers.

“Interconnection should not be used as a choke point to artificially slow traffic or extract unreasonable tolls from over-the-top providers,” the Internet Association said.

Public interest groups argue that the reclassification of the Internet is necessary to establish robust, enforceable rules for broadband providers that can survive a court challenge.

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