Representatives from AT&T and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association spoke with key FCC personnel Tuesday about a regulatory framework for the Internet, according to a disclosure filed with the commission.
According to the document received by the commission, participants discussed prohibitions against blocking lawful Internet content; standards for preventing harm to consumers or competition; and avenues for addressing complaints regarding Internet openness, among other issues.
The meeting was part of continuing talks between the FCC and industry executives to find a compromise on Internet regulation in lieu of the FCC's pending proposal to reclassify some parts of broadband as a telecommunications service. The reclassification is aimed at giving the FCC more regulatory authority over broadband providers.
The FCC's authority was put in doubt in the wake of an April federal appeals court decision that said the commission did not have the power to crack down on Comcast Corp. for violating the agency's open Internet principles.
Those at the meeting included AT&T Executive Vice President James Cicconi, NCTA CEO Kyle McSlarrow, Edward P. Lazarus, chief of staff to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and Zachary Katz, deputy chief of the FCC's Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis.
Some public interest groups have complained about such closed-door meetings. "Any 'compromise' that allows the powerful telecom and Internet companies to prioritize their content over all others is not real Net Neutrality; it's fake Net Neutrality ... The future of the Internet should not be decided in a back room," Josh Silver, president of the nonprofit group Free Press, said in a statement.
This article appears in the July 31, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily.