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REPORT: U.S. Chamber, Comcast, tech group split over net neutrality

photo of net neutrality
Signage is seen at the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo)
Latest net neutrality debate emerges at Federal Communications Commission
By David Shepardson | REUTERS

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Comcast Corp said on Thursday they oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules, while major tech firms backed the plan.

The FCC in November voted to advance a proposal to assume new regulatory oversight over broadband internet rescinded under former President Donald Trump.

The Chamber called the plan “unlawful and unwise,” and argued it “will have significant negative impacts on investment, innovation, and unserved and underserved consumers.” Comcast said in a filing with the commission “there is no broadband market failure to justify the sweeping government takeover proposed here.”

The FCC voted in 2017 under Trump to reverse the rules that barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization, that were adopted under then President Barack Obama in 2015.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Amazon.com , Apple, Alphabet and Meta Platforms, backed reinstatement saying “rules prohibiting blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and unreasonable conduct must be reinstated to preserve open access to the internet.”

The vote to give the FCC wide authority over the internet comes after Democrats took majority control of the five-member FCC in October for the first time since President Joe Biden took office. Biden signed a July 2021 executive order encouraging the FCC to reinstate net neutrality rules.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said “there is no expert agency ensuring that the internet is fast, open, and fair.”
Despite the 2017 repeal, a dozen states now have net neutrality laws or regulations in place. Industry groups abandoned legal challenges in 2022.

The New York Public Service Commission said it supported FCC plan to reinstate net neutrality but said New York and other states “should be recognized for their the ability to regulate issues of state or local concern” and opposed the FCC proposal to preeempt some state authority.

Editor’s note: Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio

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