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AT&T ad: Facebook, Google should have neutrality rules too

AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

AT&T thinks it should play by the same neutrality rules as Google and Facebook — and it's telling readers of the New York Times, Washington Post and other national outlets this morning in an ad signed by CEO Randall Stephenson.

Why it matters: AT&T — like FCC Chairman Ajit Pai — is tapping into anti-tech sentiments to build the case that the net neutrality debate shouldn't just be about internet providers, but major web platforms as well.

The ad will run in Times, Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. It's also appearing online.

What they're saying: "Congressional action is needed to establish an 'Internet Bill of Rights' that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protection for all internet users," says the ad, which takes the form of an open letter signed by CEO Randall Stephenson that doesn't mention any web companies by name. He also says that "the commitment of one company is not enough."

What they're not saying: How exactly this would work. The web companies aren't regulated by the FCC, which last month repealed net neutrality rules for broadband providers like AT&T. And there's are significant differences between the pipes that carry content on the internet and the websites that host it.

Real talk: Net neutrality legislation is at a standstill on Capitol Hill right now.

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