Silicon Valley Firms Begin Fight to Stop Trump Administration’s Rollback of Net Neutrality Rules

A lobbying group representing Facebook, Google, Twitter and other web giants told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission yesterday that it shouldn’t weaken net neutrality rules — an early warning shot at the ideas contemplated by the agency’s new Republican chairman, Ajit Pai.

Under Pai’s draft plan, which he has not yet presented publicly, internet providers like AT&T, Comcast*, Charter and Verizon could soon escape tough regulation: They would only have to promise in writing that they won’t block web pages or slow down their competitors’ traffic, sources have said.

Such a voluntary system is a stark departure from the strict rules imposed by the Obama administration, however, and it prompted the Internet Association, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, to tell Pai privately yesterday that it has its doubts.

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

Under Pai’s system, ISPs that break their net neutrality promises would be subject to punishment not by the FCC, but another Washington agency, the Federal Trade Commission. The Internet Association is no fan of that setup, either, and it told Pai during their meeting that net neutrality should continue to be “enforced by the expert agency, namely the FCC.” (The FTC is seen as an easier cop to beat on net neutrality.)

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