Inside the huge, low-profile alliance fighting to save the FCC’s net neutrality rules

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Every week, a motley crew of tech wonks and legal experts meet in Washington to discuss the problem they've been grappling with for almost a year now: how to save the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules. Of the 70 to 80 regulars in the gathering, a few hail from industry groups such as the Internet Association — one of Silicon Valley's biggest lobbying operations — or the small-telco trade association INCOMPAS, according to people familiar with the matter. There are a handful of state attorneys general, some of whom have sued the FCC to block its recent move to deregulate Internet providers. There are policy experts from tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter, who at one point or another have weighed in on the net neutrality debate but whose fortunes in Washington have worsened as the political winds have shifted against them over the past year. And there are consumer groups, such as Free Press and Public Knowledge, who have waged a grass-roots campaign to keep the FCC from letting Internet providers block or slow websites. This massive yet inconspicuous alliance draws together the combined firepower of those calling for tougher regulations for Internet service providers (ISPs) at a time of increasing consolidation in the industry. But with the debate on net neutrality shifting toward Congress after the FCC decided last year to repeal its net neutrality rules, the group's members are divided on how best to channel their energies on Capitol Hill.

[Editor's note: The Benton Foundation supports strong net neutrality rules, has filed a court challenge to the repeal of the rules, and attends the weekly meetings mentioned above. Although a participant in these meetings, as a private foundation, Benton is prohibited from  any activity that attempts to influence or expresses a view about specific legislation.]


Inside the huge, low-profile alliance fighting to save the FCC’s net neutrality rules