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Net neutrality advocates: Hybrid approach won't work

Grant Gross | Nov. 10, 2014
While pro-net neutrality groups say a hybrid regulatory model wouldn't go far enough to protect Internet users, groups opposed to strong regulations say it goes too far.

The hybrid approach would leave "loopholes" open for broadband providers to negotiate traffic deals with Web content producers and is weaker than net neutrality rules backed by President Barack Obama, the letter said.

"This is not what the public wants or what President Obama promised the American public," the letter said. "Even the original authors of some of these approaches have said that full Title II reclassification is the better way forward, and ISPs like Verizon have already threatened lawsuits."

In addition to the letter, Free Press, Fight for the Future and other groups organized Thursday evening flash protests against the hybrid plan. Protests were staged in about 30 U.S. cities, and more than 100 people protested outside the White House in Washington, D.C., organizers said.

Meanwhile, groups on the other side of the net neutrality debate have also criticized a hybrid regulatory approach. Reclassifying any part of broadband "opens the door to FCC regulation of the heart of the Internet," said Berin Szoka, president of free-market think tank TechFreedom.

While Wheeler is under "enormous pressure" to adopt net neutrality rules, he should consider going to Congress and asking for new authority to craft the regulations, Szoka said in an email. While many in Congress would oppose Title II-based net neutrality rules, a "broad consensus" exists to give the agency some authority to enforce rules requiring broadband providers to be transparent about their network management practices and prohibiting them from blocking Web traffic, he said.

"Congressional Republicans have a strong incentive to demonstrate that they can govern responsibly," Szoka said. "And all sides of the tech industry desperately need this intractable fight over the FCC's authority to end."


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