The Federal Communications Commission isn't expected to officially release an updated Net neutrality proposal until May 15th, but that isn't stopping activists from protesting an expected provision that would allow for some "paid traffic prioritization." And activists might have just gotten some powerful new allies.
In a letter (PDF) submitted to the FCC on Friday, a group of 10 U.S. senators voiced their opposition to any policy that would block or prioritize various kinds of Internet traffic.
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The letter states in part:
"Particularly concerning are reports that the [proposed Net neutrality rules] will allow 'paid prioritization arrangements' as long as they are 'commercially reasonable,' as determined by a complicated series of tests that the commission has yet to develop. Changing the rules -- to let broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) demand payment from websites and app developers -- would eradicate Net neutrality, not preserve it."
Under the new policy the FCC is expected to propose next week, ISPs would also be able to enact "commercially reasonable traffic management," as IDG News Service's Grant Gross put it. Gross notes that this change "appears to be a change in tone, from a prohibition against unreasonable traffic management to an approval of reasonable traffic management."
Net Neutrality activists -- including former FCC commissioner Michael Copps -- have suggested that the FCC reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service, which would give the FCC more power in preventing ISPs from blocking, prioritizing, or otherwise discriminating for or against certain kinds of network traffic.
For its part, AT&T filed a letter with the FCC on Friday, arguing against any reclassification of broadband Internet access. According to Ars Technica, AT&T argues that reclassifying broadband Internet service would "impose a host of harms" and do nothing to prevent paid traffic prioritization.