FCC’s Secret Meetings on Net Neutrality Anger Activists

According to PC Magazine the Federal Communications Commission held closed door meetings with lobbyists for the country’s top telecoms in Washington on Monday. According to the report lobbyists from AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Internet companies like Google and Skype are meeting with the FCC to talk about Net Neutrality. This does not sit well with organizations pushing for Net Neutrality at all – mainly because of the lack of transparency the FCC is showing in holding the meetings in the first place.

The meetings come on the heels of the FCC opening a public comment period last week to figure out how it should proceed regarding broadband Internet regulation. Monday’s meeting included a discussion with lobbyists about how the FCC might avoid changes to Internet regulation rules, but still be able to enforce "net neutrality" rules. Another meeting was scheduled for today.

Consumer group Free Press was very unhappy with the FCC’s meetings:

"It is stunning that the FCC would convene meetings between industry giants to allow them determine how the agency should best protect the public interest," Free Press president and CEO Josh Silver said in a statement. "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."

On the other side of the issue Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said that his company is willing to find a compromise on federal rules that would prevent it and other broadband Internet service providers from blocking traffic on their networks. He also noted that Verizon does not support what the FCC is trying to do with the "third way." Here’s what he said at the Business Roundtable at the Economic Club of Washington recently:

"We are very concerned that, in attempting to address legitimate issues about access to the Internet, the FCC has proposed basically an unimaginative and overbearing set of rules that essentially tries to retrofit a new industry into an old framework and expand their regulatory reach well beyond what is necessary," Seidenberg said in his speech. "As we’ve said – and as we’ve demonstrated – communications companies will continue to work with the Commission and the other players in the Internet space to protect customers and ensure an open and robust broadband environment. The FCC’s current course of action will really do little to achieve those objectives."

Source: PC Magazine and Washington Post

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