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FCC Adopts Corporate Internet Regulatory Rules

December 22, 2010

(This article is re-posted from OpenSecrets.)

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved new rules that will regulate Internet access for consumers. Passed by FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski and his Democratic colleagues, the rules stipulate that Internet providers cannot block or restrict the delivery of online services. But providers may have preferred clients in which a company can pay for faster Internet access for consumers.

Indeed, the debate over net neutrality has been raging over the past two years as entities on both sides have been lobbying heavily to influence policymakers. On one end, Internet providers generally pushed for the ability to charge businesses and consumers for faster Internet speeds, creating a seemingly tiered Internet system.

Conversely, consumer advocates wanted the FCC to keep the Internet universally available to all consumers and businesses, thereby protecting and entrenching net neutrality. After analyzing lobbying disclosure reports, the Center for Responsive Politics finds that communication companies have had a much larger presence than the consumer advocates lobbying policymakers.

The chart below shows how many entities within specific industries or special interest areas specifically mentioned lobbying on “net neutrality” during the past two years:

While federal lobbying disclosure forms make it impossible to tell exactly how much money these companies spent lobbying on net neutrality alone, the significant resource advantage communication companies have over consumer advocacy groups suggest an advantage in making their voices heard over competitors.

 

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