VCs, Internet Companies, Consumer Advocates Against Proposed FCC Rule Changes

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Washington - May 8, 2014 - Reuters is reporting that 50 Venture capitalists, 100 Internet technology companies, 100 advocacy groups, and at least one FCC commissioner have pushed back against rule changes that the FCC is proposing with respect to Internet communications.

The venture capitalists, including Ron Conway of SV Angel; Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz; John Lilly of Greylock Partners; Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group; and dozens of other VCs wrote a joint letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, which stated "If established companies are able to pay for better access speeds or lower latency, the Internet will no longer be a level playing field."

Though Wheeler has said he would use all tools necessary to prevent or punish Internet service providers who may "degrade the service for all for the benefit of a few," his proposal has triggered an outcry. Thousands of comments are pouring into the agency's inboxes and flooding its phone lines.

More than 100 technology companies, including Internet giants Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon wrote to Wheeler on Wednesday, warning that his proposal was a "grave threat to the Internet."

More than 100 advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Writers Guild of America East, chimed in with a letter to Wheeler and U.S. President Barack Obama: "Internet service providers should not be in the business of picking winners and losers online. But the proposal the FCC is currently considering gives ISPs the power to do exactly that, which is why it must be abandoned," the groups said.

Ajit Pai, senior Republican commissioner at the five-member FCC on Thursday said he had "grave concerns" about the plan and joined his Democratic colleague Jessica Rosenworcel in calling for a delay of the vote scheduled for May 15.

Consumer advocates have long urged the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers as more highly regulated utilities, similar to phone companies; however, that reclassification has faced staunch opposition from Republican lawmakers and broadband companies.

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