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Reaction to Net Neutrality Proposal Passionately Divided

There’s very little middle ground in the responses to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s new net neutrality proposal.


Reactions to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s newest net neutrality proposal came quickly Wednesday afternoon, even though the proposal itself won’t be released publicly for another few weeks.

None were particularly surprising. Companies and advocates lined up Wednesday along familiar fault lines. Advocates of stronger rules are thrilled, to say the least. Broadband providers and anti-regulation conservatives are more than a little upset.

Here’s a sample of the reactions from both sides.

Yay, Net Neutrality Rules!

Internet Association, a trade group that includes Google, Facebook and Amazon: “Internet companies are pleased to hear that Chairman Wheeler intends to enact strong, enforceable and legally sustainable net neutrality rules that include bright-line rules that ban paid prioritization, blocking, and discrimination online. … There is only one Internet, and users expect that they be able to access an uncensored Internet regardless of how they connect.”

ACLU: “Without the strong foundation provided by Title II, our ability to speak and associate freely online without having to pay for fast lanes would be left vulnerable.”

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., a longtime net neutrality advocate (and hater of Comcast*): “This is a big victory. It’s a win for consumers, for small businesses trying to compete with the big guys and for innovation. It’s welcome news for all of us who have fought to keep the Internet free and open.”

Netflix: “We support the commission asserting jurisdiction over interconnection and implementing a case-by-case process that prevents ISPs from charging unfair and unreasonable tolls. If such an oversight process had been in place last year, we certainly would’ve used it when a handful of ISPs opted to hold our members hostage until we paid up.”

Rep. Frank Pelone, D-N.J., top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee: “The FCC must move forward with this initiative; however, I remain open to working with my colleagues in Congress to find a truly bipartisan legislative solution.”

Oh My God, Net Neutrality Rules.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association: “We believe that such a significant expansion of the FCC’s authority is unnecessary and will only deliver further uncertainty instead of legally enforceable rules that everyone supports. Despite the repeated assurances from the President and Chairman Wheeler, we remain concerned that this proposal will confer sweeping discretion to regulate rates and set the economic terms and conditions of business relationships.”

Verizon: The rules are “counterproductive because heavy regulation of the Internet will create uncertainty and chill investment among the many players — not just Internet service providers — that now will need to consider FCC rules before launching new services.”

AT&T: “We continue to believe that a middle ground exists that will allow us to safeguard the open Internet without risk to needed investment and years of legal uncertainty. … We also hope that proponents of Title II will consider that any FCC action taken on a partisan vote can be undone by a future commission in similar fashion, or may be declared invalid by the courts.”

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee: “Chairman Wheeler’s proposal to regulate the Internet as a public utility is not about net neutrality — it is a power grab for the federal government by the chairman of a supposedly independent agency who finally succumbed to the bully tactics of political activists and the president himself.”

Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai: “Today, Chairman Wheeler announced that he will ask the FCC to adopt President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet. I strongly oppose the President’s plan, which will raise consumers’ broadband bills, slow broadband speeds and reduce competition.”

* Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is a minority investor in Revere Digital, Re/code’s parent company.

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