FCC Holds Talks on Internet Rules


Author: Amy Schatz
Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States

The Federal Communications Commission is holding talks with phone and cable companies about a compromise that would give the government authority over Internet lines without adopting controversial new rules the industry opposes.

Edward Lazarus, the chief of staff at the Federal Communications Commission, and other senior FCC staffers are holding closed-door meetings with a small group of lobbyists representing Internet providers, including AT&T, Verizon Communications, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Internet services companies such as Google and Skype. The negotiations revolve around a possible compromise that would avoid wholesale changes in how the FCC regulates Internet lines but still give the agency the ability to enforce "net neutrality" rules, which would prevent Internet providers from deliberately slowing or blocking Internet traffic. During a two-and-a-half-hour meeting Monday, the lobbyists discussed issues that their companies might be able to agree on but reached no consensus, according to people with knowledge of the meeting. The group is scheduled to meet again Tuesday.

"It is stunning that the FCC would convene meetings between industry giants to allow them to determine how the agency should best protect the public interest," said Free Press CEO Josh Silver. "The Obama administration promised a new era of transparency, and to 'take a backseat to no one' on Net Neutrality, but these meetings seem to indicate that this FCC has no problem brokering backroom deals without any public input or scrutiny."

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