The Internet Innovation Alliance spoke out in support of AT&T's recent net neutrality proposal that the company described as an "Internet Bill of Rights," calling for a universal legal framework that would protect the principles of the open Internet while simultaneously regulating both ISPs and websites. The coalition said it supports the idea of treating the issue of net neutrality as a bipartisan matter and one that needs to be regulated as quickly as possible so as to ensure consumers can count on a consistent online experience. Regardless, IIA believes the Title II regulations enacted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015 were the wrong way to go about doing so and welcomed the recent repeal of the rules initiated by new Chairman Ajit Pai.
Instead of regulating Internet service providers as utility companies, the United States Congress should draft legislation based on the FCC's Open Internet order from 2010 and maintain broadband's status of an information service, IIA said. The previously detailed open Internet principles were already sufficiently clear in regards to how the online ecosystem should be managed as they were specifically against throttling, blocking, or otherwise censoring "legitimate" content, the coalition argued, welcoming AT&T's initiative to publicly call for Congress to step in and regulate the industry. By advocating for the Republican-led Congress to codify an order issued by the former Democratic leadership of the FCC, IIA is suggesting net neutrality shouldn't be subjected to any more partisanship. The coalition believes the left is still primarily concerned with preserving the principles of the open Internet, whereas the right doesn't want to see ISPs regulated as utility companies, noting that its proposal would address both issues.
The legislation that AT&T — a member of IIA — suggested earlier this week was met with some harsh criticism, particularly among digital companies that the wireless carrier also wants to see regulated by the same bill. Opponents are arguing that consumers can always decide not to use a website, whereas many in the U.S. still don't have a real choice of an ISP, with the latter thus warranting stricter regulatory oversight. AT&T's proposal also didn't address the issue of selling so-called "fast lanes," i.e. asking website owners and other companies to pay extra in order to have access to their pages and services prioritized. The Congress has yet to respond to the move and it's presently unclear whether it intends to do so, with the wireless industry advocating for similar legislation for years now without significant success.