Silicon Valley Urges FCC To Preserve Net Neutrality Rules

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to repeal the net neutrality rules isn't sitting well with Silicon Valley.

This week, the trade group Internet Association -- which counts companies like Amazon, Google, eBay and Facebook as members -- met with Pai in an attempt to convince him that net neutrality rules are critical to Web companies. The Internet Association's president and CEO Michael Beckerman, along with general counsel Abigail Slater, argued to Pai that the open Internet order "is a vital component of the free and open internet," according to a filing describing the meeting.

"The internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition, and innovation online," the Internet Association writes. "In other words, existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact."

The rules, passed last year, reclassified broadband as a utility service and subjected providers to some common carrier restrictions. Among others, the rules prohibit broadband providers from blocking or degrading service and from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery. The rules also broadly ban Internet service providers from engaging in conduct that interferes with people's ability to access material online.

Beckerman and Slater pointed out to Pai that the net neutrality rules survived a court challenge last year, when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments that the FCC lacked authority to issue the rules. The Internet Association also told the FCC that the rules haven't resulted in a drop in investment by providers.

Pai, who dissented from the vote to impose net neutrality rules, has indicated that he will try to revoke them at the first opportunity. Late last week, he reportedly floated a plan to repeal the rules, but also convince carriers to voluntarily include net neutrality obligations in their terms of service. Pai supposedly wants the Federal Trade Commission to then enforce violations -- even though the FTC lacks authority to prosecute the telecoms and cable companies that provide broadband service.

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