Major tech firms, internet providers clash over U.S. net neutrality rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Tech companies clashed with internet service providers on Monday over whether a landmark 2015 net neutrality order barring the blocking or slowing of web content should be scrapped by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

A group representing major technology firms including Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O) urged the FCC to abandon plans to rescind the rules barring internet service providers from hindering consumer access to web content or offering paid “fast lanes.”

The Internet Association said in its filing with the FCC that dismantling the rules “will create significant uncertainty in the market and upset the careful balance that has led to the current virtuous circle of innovation in the broadband ecosystem.”

The rollback would harm consumers, added the group, which also represents Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Microsoft Inc (MSFT.O), Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Snap Inc (SNAP.N).

Major internet service providers including AT&T Inc (T.N), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Charter Communications Inc (CHTR.O) urged the FCC, however, to reverse the rules enacted during former President Barack Obama’s administration, even as they vowed not to hinder internet access.

Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) said the Obama order had “injected uncertainty into the marketplace, restricted innovation, and chilled investment.” It called the prospect of future rate regulation “a toxic approach if the goal is to encourage investment or the entrance of new competitors into the market.”

Comcast said the order “represented an unfortunate, unnecessary, and profoundly unwise wrong-turn for the broadband economy and consumers more broadly.” AT&T said the FCC in 2015 “grossly exaggerated the need for public-utility-style regulation while ignoring its costs.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to weigh in on Monday, noting the FCC was an independent agency.

‘Paid Prioritization’

FILE PHOTO – The Federal Communications…

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