VIA | A group representing today’s biggest web companies met with FCC leader Ajit Pai on Tuesday and offered a defense of net neutrality, which increasingly appears to be under threat.
The Internet Association, which represents more than three dozen companies including Google, Facebook, and Netflix, told Pai that it maintains “vigorous support” for the 2015 net neutrality order and said that the “existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact,” according to a filing made by the group.
The meeting comes just a week after Pai is said to have privately revealed plans to drop the existing net neutrality rules and instead encourage net neutrality principles to be established in customer service agreements — a dramatically weaker way of maintaining net neutrality, if it can even be said to really do that, than what’s currently in effect.
Pai’s meeting with the Internet Association has been on the books for months, so the timing here is somewhat coincidental. But it offered web companies the chance to restate their support for strong net neutrality rules, suggesting that Pai is in for a fight if he tries to weaken them.
The Internet Association said that there are four key net neutrality principles it wants to see maintained no matter what: no paid fast lanes, no unreasonable interconnect fees, rules that apply to both wireless and wired internet, and having the FCC be capable of enforcing the rules.
Though the group expressed full support for net neutrality’s current implementation, it doesn’t strictly demand the use of Title II to put internet providers under a strong regulatory regime. Instead, the Internet Association says that what matters is “the end result — meaningful net neutrality rules that withstand the test of time.”
The Internet Association also showed some amount of support for the recently struck-down internet privacy rules, saying that the FCC was correct to find a distinction between web companies like Google and Facebook and internet providers like Comcast and AT&T. Republicans and Pai himself have insisted that this distinction doesn’t exist, and thanks to Congress, it looks like it won’t be present whenever new privacy rules are put in place.
If Pai offered more details of his plan to undo the 2015 net neutrality order, the Internet Association didn’t mention it. Pai is said to have first brought it up during a meeting with internet providers last week. None of the details are public yet, but The Wall Street Journalsays they could come as soon as next month.