Both sides make last-minute push on Net neutrality

Groups for and against strong rules try to score points just over a week before the FCC's vote

The clock is running down on the chance to lobby the US Federal Communications Commission before it votes on putting stronger net neutrality rules in place, and both sides of the battle are making sure their voices are heard.

Advocates of strong net neutrality rules have generated more than 1 million messages to the FCC or Congress since the beginning of 2015 via the Battleforthenet.com website. "You can't buy public opinion," Evan Greer, campaign director of digital rights group Fight for the Future, said during a press briefing Wednesday. "We very clearly have won in the sphere of public opinion."

The FCC is scheduled to vote on new rules that would reclassify broadband as a regulated utility on Feb. 26, and with agency rules mandating a week-long quiet period on lobbying before then, groups on both sides of the long-running debate were making last-minute pitches.

Included in the Battleforthenet.com numbers since Jan. 1 were more than 700,000 email messages or petitions to Congress, more than 120,000 calls to Congress, and more than 75,000 petitions to the FCC, said supporting groups, calling themselves Team Internet.

The groups supporting Battleforthenet.com include Color of Change, Demand Progress, Free Press and Mozilla.

But groups opposed to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to reclassify broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a more heavily regulated telecommunications service have their own petition drives.

American Commitment, a conservative group with ties to the activist billionaire Koch brothers, said that since December its members have written 100,000 letters to Congress opposing reclassification of broadband.

Protect Internet Freedom, a new group run by two Republican operatives, said it has collected 220,000 signatures on a petition opposing the "attempt by the Obama Administration to control the Internet as a public utility."

Meanwhile, Ajit Pai, a Republican member of the FCC, issued his own press release quoting from newspaper editorials, former government officials and others opposed to strong net neutrality regulations. He also referred to a letter this month from leaders of 43 municipal broadband projects who oppose broadband reclassification.

A change in FCC policy "will trigger consequences beyond the commission's control and risk serious harm to our ability to fund and deploy broadband without bringing any concrete benefit for consumers or edge providers that the market" is not providing now, the letter said.

Several Web startups took issue with how Pai characterized the impact of net neutrality rules, however. Earlier this month, Pai said Wheeler's plan "saddles small, independent businesses and entrepreneurs with heavy-handed regulations that will push them out of the market."

But on Wednesday Engine, an advocacy group representing Web startups, sent the FCC a letter disputing that.

"We write to say unequivocally that [Pai's] release does not represent our views on net neutrality," said the letter, signed by more than 100 startups. "Quite the opposite, entrepreneurs and startups throughout the country have consistently supported Chairman Wheeler's call for strong net neutrality rules."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags free presstelecommunicationregulationColor of ChangeU.S. CongressDemand ProgressinternetFight for the FutureInternet service providersmozillaProtect Internet FreedomEvan GreerEngineU.S. Federal Communications CommissiongovernmentAjit PaiAmerican Commitmentbroadband

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?