Internet Giants Criticize AT&T Over Net Neutrality Proposal

The Internet Association criticized AT&T's call for an "Internet Bill of Rights" which the wireless carrier wants to have drafted and enacted by the United States Congress. While the company pledged to protect the principles of net neutrality as part of its Wednesday proposal, its vision of an open Internet doesn't just include a legislative framework regulating ISPs but has the same rules applied to all websites and services. The lobby group that includes the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Uber, and Netflix expressed skepticism in regards to AT&T's latest move. In a statement provided to Ars Technica, the consortium said AT&T can hardly be "serious" about its intentions to protect the neutrality of the Internet given its history of "opposing [similar] consumer protections." AT&T sued the FCC in 2015 in an attempt to repeal the Title II regulations and lost in court but ultimately saw the rules revoked by the new leadership of the regulator chaired by Ajit Pai.

The Internet Association reiterated that it's advocating for a highly specific and firm set of rules that are easily enforceable, the kind that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal in mid-December, two years after the same agency put them into place under former Chairman Tom Wheeler. The latest official communication from the group also repeated its beliefs that the repeal of the so-called Title II protections was directly instigated by "AT&T and their allies," alluding to other ISPs in the country. Besides calling for the regulation of all digital businesses, AT&T's proposal suggested only partial protections meant to ensure the open Internet; while the company explicitly stated it doesn't throttle or otherwise censor websites based on their content and never intends to do so, it contained no mentions of the possibility that it will eventually try to strong-arm online companies into paying for prioritized access.

The so-called "Internet fast lanes" are the most realistic consequence of the net neutrality repeal as they wouldn't directly require consumers to pay more for accessing the web but would still result in slower connections to certain domains, i.e. the ones whose owners refuse to pay to have their websites prioritized. The FCC's controversial decision has already been challenged in a number of courts, with these disputes being unlikely to be resolved until 2018.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]