Amazon, Facebook-led association pleads with FCC to keep net neutrality rules

Ajit Pai (FCC)
The Internet Association's plea will likely fall on deaf ears, as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai opposed net neutrality legislation when it was passed in 2015. Image: FCC

A group of internet-based companies have made a case to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to keep the FCC’s Title II-based net neutrality regulations in place, kicking off a potential battle with Republican lawmakers who want to undo the current rules.

Pai has made the task of revamping the net neutrality rules a key tenet of his leadership of the new FCC. One of the measures he has considered is having ISPs voluntarily agree to Open Internet rules that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), not the FCC, would be charged with enforcing.

The Internet Association, a coalition of internet-based companies that includes Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix and others, said it met with Pai on Tuesday to make its case to retain the current rules.

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Although none of the Internet Association members would comment on how the meeting went, IA said members were on the same page.

“The internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition, and innovation online,” the group said in a WSJ article. “In other words, existing net-neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact.”

Under the current rules, telcos and cable operators are required to treat all internet traffic equally. ISPs have opposed the rules, arguing that the FCC overstepped its authority in reclassifying them as common carriers. However, these service providers have pledged support the basic net neutrality principles like no blocking and banning paid prioritization.

However compelling the IA’s case is, their plea will likely fall on deaf ears. Pai, who opposed the original rules that were passed under his predecessor Tom Wheeler in 2015, said net neutrality can be maintained without classifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II.  

Democrats like Ed Markey, D.-Mass., maintain that the current rules are working and they have not driven service providers to hold back on capital spending.

“The Census Bureau reported that the U.S. broadband and telecommunications industry spent over $87 billion in capital expenditures in 2015,” Markey said during a recent hearing with the FCC.