Washington (June 4, 2020) – Today, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson regarding reports that AT&T has a policy of not counting use of HBO Max, a streaming service that the company owns, against AT&T customers’ data caps.
Before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acted in 2017 to undo net neutrality, the FCC had the authority to prohibit unjust, unreasonable and discriminatory practices by internet providers, including “zero-rating,” the term used to describe the practice of allowing users to access certain content without the requisite data usage counting towards the caps under users’ plans. The Commission previously noted that this activity can “present significant risks to consumers and competition in downstream industry sectors because of network operators’ potentially unreasonable discrimination in favor of their own affiliates.”
“According to recent reporting and comments from AT&T executives, your company has a policy of favoring a specific streaming service in a manner that appears to runs contrary to your stated support for a free and open internet,” write Senators Markey, Wyden, and Blumenthal in their letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “The Trump FCC may have gutted critical net neutrality protections, but AT&T nonetheless has a responsibility to avoid any policies or practices that harm consumers and stifle competition.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Senators Markey, Wyden, and Blumenthal previously introduced the Save the Internet Act which codifies the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. In 2018, Senator Markey’s Congressional Review Act (CRA) Resolution of Disapproval to save net neutrality passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
In 2006, Senators Markey and Wyden introduced the first neutrality bills in the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively.