Behind the scenes, tech firms tell U.S. regulators: Make the internet a public utility

Quartz reports: As his own website crashed under the weight of public comments on net neutrality, the top communications regulator in the US was hearing protests directly from tech companies in New York City.

On July 15, at the Brooklyn office of the handicrafts e-commerce site Etsy, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler met with executives from tech companies. Attendants included Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler, Tumblr CEO David Karp, Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor, and representatives from Spotify, Reddit, Foursquare, General Assembly, Buzzfeed, and Warby Parker, participants told Quartz. While the FCC declined to comment on the event, it will be filing an official notice of an outside meeting on its website later this week.

Wheeler has been meeting with different internet stakeholders as his agency moves to write rules designed to preserve the “open internet” this year, but what that means and how to do it remains far from a settled matter. While internet service providers, or carriers, want the freedom to charge different rates for different kinds of data, these technology firms were asking Wheeler’s agency to treat internet communication as a public utility with no discrimination allowed, a so-called “Title II reclassification.” US regulators are, at the moment, caught in the middle. [Continue reading…]

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