Internet Association makes plea to Congress for bipartisan net neutrality rules

Internet Alliance
The Internet Alliance has made a plea to Congress to block the FCC's action to overturn the current net neutrality rollback. (Internet Alliance)

The Internet Association (IA) has called for Congress to create a permanent legislative solution to the net neutrality debate following the FCC’s recent move to overturn the current rules.

In a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the IA made its case to lawmakers that they need to come together in a bipartisan manner to come up with a common net neutrality foundation that protects consumers and businesses.  

“The current Order should not stand, and IA supports all efforts—including comprehensive bipartisan legislation—to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections at the federal level,” said Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association. “To that end, IA supports the Senate Congressional Review Act resolution to invalidate the Federal Communications Commission’s Jan. 4, 2018, Restoring Internet Freedom Order.”

In January, the IA, which is backed by Google, Microsoft and Amazon, hatched plans to appeal the FCC’s move to overturn the 2015 net neutrality rules.

RELATED: Google, Amazon, Microsoft-backed Internet Association to appeal FCC’s net neutrality decision

Led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), there has been a recent movement to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to not approve the FCC’s net neutrality rollback. According to various reports, Markey has gained all the support he needs for Senate passage of a not-yet-introduced RoD to disapprove the FCC's rollback of "neutrality." 

Beckerman said that while “the CRA will help alleviate immediate concerns, the internet industry urges Congress to legislate a permanent solution.”

Another key element related to net neutrality IA calls out in the letter is broadband competition.

“Strong net neutrality rules are necessitated by, among other factors, the lack of competition in the broadband service market,” Beckerman said. “More than half of all Americans have no choice in their provider, and 87% of rural Americans have no choice.”

IA’s letter was praised by USTelecom, an industry forum that represents the largest U.S.-based ISPs.

“USTelecom and our members stand ready to work with Congress and all participants in today’s internet economy to ensure a sustainable, permanent legislative solution for net neutrality,” said Jonathan Spalter, CEO of US Telecom, in a statement. “We hope Congress will also take the Internet Association and their members up on their support for permanent net neutrality legislation and not pursue half-measures like the CRA which would merely be kicking the can.”

However, other groups like the High Tech Forum were a bit more critical of the IA’s letter.

Richard Bennett, founder of the High Tech Forum, said in a blog post that the IA’s letter is “demanding two contradictory actions.”  

“On the one hand, the dominant players in the internet surveillance and services industry 'urge Congress to legislate a permanent solution' to the net neutrality dilemma; on the other, they support a Congressional Review Act resolution nullifying the FCC’s Dec. 14 deregulatory ruling,” Bennett said. “This combination of asks makes no sense."