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Edge Providers Push for Net Neutrality CRA

The Internet Association, whose members include the big edge providers, is squarely behind the effort by Hill Democrats to nullify the FCC's Dec. 14 Restoring Internet Freedom order, which eliminatess prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization and a general conduct standard that would allow the FCC to potentially regulate other online conduct not expressly prohibited by those rules.

In a letter to the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, Internet Association President Michael Beckerman said that IA supports the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, and also would then support legislation that "memorializes all of the protections" in the 2015 Open Internet order.

"The CRA is an important step in solidifying open internet protections," Beckerman said. "The FCC’s recent Restoring Internet Freedom Order (the “Order”) represents the complete reversal of broad, bipartisan consensus in the operation of the internet, and leaves consumers with no meaningful protections to ensure their access to the entire internet. The current Order should not stand, and IA supports all efforts —including comprehensive bipartisan legislation —to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections at the federal level."

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ISPs also support legislation that prohibits blocking and throttling, but restoring the paid prioritizaion prohibition and the general conduct standard, not so much.

IA members include the Big Four edge providers--Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter.

The CRA has 50 supporters in the Senate, but needs one more vote for passage. But even if it did get the needed 51 votes, getting it through the House and past the President is a long shot. But so is bipartisan legislation given the parties' differences over paid prioritization, Title II classification, and other issues.

The Internet Innovation Alliance, commenting on the need for bipartisan legislation,  countered that while it, too, supported legislation enshrining rules, the 2010 Open Intnernet order was a better model. That was the compromise rules that did not prevent paid prioritization and had no general conduct standard.

“Today, the Internet Association joined the chorus of those calling on Congress to enact, this year, a permanent legislative solution to the ‘net neutrality’ debate that is now well into its second decade," said IA of IIA's letter. "The Internet Innovation Alliance has long called for a new law in this area, based on the core principles of an open internet: no blocking of legitimate online content, no throttling, and no unfair discrimination against legitimate online content. The open internet principles of the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order would serve as a useful model. Moreover, we believe this bill should also contain strong protections for consumers’ online privacy."

IIA said that privacy regime should apply to all sectors of the internet ecosystem. “To succeed, privacy principles should apply on equal terms to all providers and indeed all companies that touch consumers in the internet ecosystem. This is absolutely necessary for the law to give consumers the assurance and security that their privacy is protected, no matter how they access the internet and no matter what sites they visit. All should be able to agree easily on the core principles of an open internet, and we strongly encourage Congress to move forward rapidly, on a bipartisan basis, to enact legislation this year and stand ready to assist in this effort.”

“It’s great to see the Internet Association calling today for a permanent legislative solution for net neutrality," says Jonathan Spalter, president of USTelecom, which represents telco ISPs. "We couldn’t agree more that Congress needs to engage on this issue to craft a bill that addresses the key issues, includes all players in the ecosystem and finally resolves the disruptive policy back and forth.

"Consumers deserve policy frameworks that apply equally to all Internet companies they engage with, including their network operators and the content providers they rely on. USTelecom and our members stand ready to work with Congress and all participants in today’s internet economy to ensure a sustainable, permanent legislative solution for net neutrality. We hope Congress will also take the Internet Association and their members up on their support for permanent net neutrality legislation and not pursue half measures like the CRA which would merely be kicking the can.”