FCC Calls off closed-door net neutrality talks

Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission said it had called off private discussions with network operators, service providers, and Internet lobbyists focused on network neutrality legislation. Participants included representatives from Google, AT&T, Verizon, Skype, NCTA, and the Open Internet Coalition.

"We have called off this round of stakeholder discussions," FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus said on Thursday. "It has been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet -- one that drives innovation, investment, free speech, and consumer choice.  All options remain on the table as we continue to seek broad input on this vital issue."

While FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the talks were aimed at preserving "the freedom and openness of the Internet for consumers and entrepreneurs," the recent allegations of a possible neutrality-bending deal between Google and Verizon have caused significant concern in the public over what could happen in closed-door discussions.

"Phones have been ringing off the hook and e-mail inboxes overflowing at the FCC, as an outraged public learned about the closed-door deal-making and saw the biggest players trying to carve up the Internet for themselves," Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said Thursday afternoon. "We're relieved to see that the FCC now apparently finds dangerous side deals from companies like Verizon and Google to be distasteful and unproductive."

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