AT&T advises Congress to rewrite net neutrality guidelines

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – AT&T Inc on Wednesday prompted Congress, in full-page newspaper advertisements, to write brand-new laws governing the internet and protect net neutrality after the Trump administration voted to rescind it late in 2015.

Congress ought to “end the debate when and for all, by composing brand-new laws that govern the web and protect customers,” AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson stated, reiterating a position the company has been promoting because the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump said it planned to overturn the guidelines.

When the Federal Communications Commission rescinded net neutrality in 2015, it handed AT&T, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc power over what material consumers can access on the internet.

The Republican-majority FCC enacted December along celebration lines to reverse the landmark 2015 Obama administration web neutrality rules which disallowed web service suppliers from blocking or throttling traffic or offering paid quickly lanes, also referred to as paid prioritization.

A future FCC might reimpose the net neutrality guidelines.

AT&T and other broadband companies desire Congress to step in and write a long-term solution for a more than decade-long dispute that would likely provide less protections for customers.

While it would limit web suppliers freedom, it would also limit a future FCC’s capability to manage the web– something web service suppliers fear– consisting of potentially enforcing future rate policies.

Stephenson said the company plans “to deal with Congress, other web companies and customer groups in the coming months to promote an ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ that completely safeguards the open web for all users.”

The advertisements appeared in newspapers including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today and online.

AT&T wants the guidelines to apply to all web business, which would include business like Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and Amazon Inc. Internet companies do not support Congress writing guidelines governing their conduct.

The strong public reaction, particularly amongst younger people, has raised concerns among some politicians about the impact the problem might have on the upcoming 2018 congressional elections.

Republican Senator John Thune, who chairs the Commerce Committee, said in an interview he has actually offered to codify “some of the consumer protections” that net neutrality supporters want “as long as the regulation is practical,” however he said it will be difficult to obtain a compromise with Democrats hesitant to come to the table.

The prepared Senate vote “gets you nowhere,” Thune said, calling it a “shiny item.” Even if it passes the Senate, it will not pass your house “and the president is not going to sign it.”

Editing by Chris Sanders and Bernadette Baum


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