More organizations joined the Internet Association in criticising AT&T's call for an "Internet Bill of Rights" which the second largest mobile service provider in the United States made on Wednesday, asking the Congress to draft and enact firm net neutrality regulations. While the Dallas, Texas-based company vowed to protect the principles of the open Internet, it did so by calling for a comprehensive legislation that would regulate not just ISPs but websites as well. Groups like Fight for the Future came out in strong opposition of the initiative, arguing that the rules AT&T is now supposedly calling for already existed and were revoked by the Federal Communications Commission last month following an extensive lobbying effort on the part of the telecom industry, including AT&T itself.
Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer is quick to point out that AT&T spent $16 million lobbying against the Title II protections in 2017 alone, expressing skepticism about the intentions behind its latest proposal. The Internet Association opted for a similar argument yesterday, claiming that the wireless carrier has a long history of lobbying for anti-consumer measures. AT&T sued the FCC in 2015 after the original net neutrality rules were adopted under former Chairman Tom Wheeler but lost the dispute in court. Following the arrival of the Trump administration, new Chairman Ajit Pai highlighted the repeal of the protections as one of the priorities of his term. The telecom regulator officially voted to revoke the rules in mid-December but its decision has now been challenged in multiple courts across the country and has yet to survive judicial scrutiny. Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order earlier this week mandating that net neutrality violators cannot be awarded state contracts, thus directly opposing the decision. New York and a number of other states are expected to follow suit in the coming months.
The Internet Innovation Alliance came out in support of the proposal, reiterating many of AT&T's points about the value of protecting the open Internet but claiming that Title II-styled regulations that classify ISPs as utility providers are the wrong way to do it. The organization called for a swift and bipartisan reaction from the Congress, saying consumers should be able to expect a "fair" and universal set of rules. It's presently unclear whether AT&T's call for net neutrality legislation will yield any results as ISPs and some groups like IIA have been advocating for a similar move for years. The company on Wednesday said it doesn't throttle or otherwise censor websites based on content nor does it ever intend to do so but didn't rule out paid prioritization practices, the most realistic consequence of the net neutrality repeal.