Secret negotiations over net neutrality back on again

August 20, 2010

After much public criticism, several top Internet carriers and technology companies have resumed secret talks among themselves over future net neutrality rules. The FCC cancelled similar talks earlier this month.

Members of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) are attempting to negotiate a deal among themselves with a plan to take it to the FCC as a proposal. The “Wall Street Journal” reported that the meetings include both AT&T and Verizon, both antiregulation companies, and net neutrality proponents that include Microsoft, Cisco and Skype.

Reports said the Open Internet Coalition, a proponent of tougher Internet regulation, is also onboard, as is the antiregulation National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Some ITIC members, such as Apple, aren’t known to be part of the talks.

Despite what the rival groups work out among themselves, private industry so far has had little success attempting to push its own agenda on the current administration at the FCC. The joint Google-Verizon deal earlier this month was dismissed by the commission as it would deliberately exempt wireless and would try to steer most disputes toward nongovernment arbitrators more likely to rule in private businesses’ favor.

Attempts by Google to paint its compromise as protecting neutrality fell on deaf ears as critics, including members of Congress, accused Google and Verizon of working against the public interest by attempting to segregate the Internet into regulated and unregulated areas.

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