Apr 11, 2017

Silicon Valley's first volley in the net neutrality fight

Robin Groulx / Axios

Consider this Silicon Valley's opening shot in the war over the future of net neutrality. In a filing describing a meeting between FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the Internet Association, which represents the interests of companies including Google, Facebook, Netflix and Snap, the trade group said "existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact."

The rules approved under the Obama administration were upheld in court and have not dampened ISP investment in broadband networks, the group told Pai. But it also said that consumers "want and need their internet experience preserved and protected, regardless of the legal or regulatory mechanism" and that "its primary focus is on the end result - meaningful net neutrality rules that withstand the test of time."

Why it matters: The Internet Association's member companies have a big stake in how web traffic flows across networks. Early pushback suggests they're willing to throw their brands' firepower into the ring of the impending FCC fight, while leaving room for negotiations over the legal fine print.

Between the lines: This battle is going to center on the legal framework that former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler used to put his rules in place. Republicans have railed against that framework, the so-called Title II regime that subjects broadband providers to more regulation.

Consumer advocates argue that Title II is fundamental to meaningful net neutrality rules. But Pai is said to be floating a plan that would ditch Title II while still requiring ISPs to voluntarily agree not to block or throttle content or allow fast lanes on their networks.

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