Mayors back Obama on net neutrality

A handful of mayors want lawmakers to back President Obama’s plan to reclassify the Internet as a public utility.

The mayors of New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore., have prepared a letter for Capitol Hill asking it to back the call for aggressive regulations to ensure Internet service companies such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable treat access to all websites equally.

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“We believe that the most effective way to truly protect the open Internet is for the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to break with its previous approach and reclassify broadband Internet as a telecommunications service subject to regulation as a common carrier,” the mayors told lawmakers in a letter obtained by The Hill. 

"This approach would enable the FCC to require sufficient transparency for consumers to make informed choices and accurately assess the services they are being provided."

Currently, the Internet is classified as an “information” service, which prevents the FCC from enacting tough rules for its providers. Reclassifying it to a “telecommunications” service would allow the agency to police it with the same authority that it uses to regulate traditional phone lines.

The call comes days after President Obama urged the FCC to take the politically controversial step, which automatically triggered an outburst from congressional Republicans.

GOP lawmakers and many telecommunications companies have said that the move would burden Internet service provides with outdated rules, and would likely not survive a legal challenge.