Monday, November 21, 2016

FCC Urged To Crack Down on ‘Zero-Rating Offerings’

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are among seven senators who urged the Federal Communications Commission on Friday to take enforcement actions against companies offering “harmful zero-rating” plans.

“Without proper oversight and enforcement action, zero-rating can discriminate against certain services, potentially distorting competition, stifling innovation, and hampering user choice and free speech,” the senators wrote in their letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “When ISPs, not the consumer, choose online winners and losers, the very core tenants of net neutrality could be disrupted.”

According to Morning Consult, Zero-rating allows customers to use data for certain applications or internet services free of charge in limited or metered data plans. Open internet advocates say those offerings violate the FCC’s net neutrality rules because they could “provide an unfair advantage to the provider of the content that is zero rated, compared to other content providers or potential new entrants.”

The FCC has been examining the zero-rating market for the past year to gain insight into various offerings from mobile network providers. The agency has not charged any companies with violating net neutrality rules. Friday’s letter indicates a growing frustration among some lawmakers with the FCC’s lack of enforcement action.

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