July 25 (UPI) -- House Republicans want online and telecommunications leaders to testify on net neutrality as the Federal Communications Commission considers repealing Internet regulations.
The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Greg Walden of Oregon, invited the chief executives of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google parent company Alphabet, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter Communications for a hearing in September.
The service providers and tech companies are on opposite ends of the debate.
On July 12, tech companies joined together for a "Day of Action" against a possible rollback of net neutrality regulations that require Internet service providers to treat all data and customers equally online.
The Internet & Television Association, the primary broadband and cable industry trade group, proposes scrapping the regulations, saying its proposal "empowers the Internet industry to continue to innovate without putting handcuffs on its most pioneering companies."
Walden said the open Internet rules put in place during the Obama administration "disrupted the longstanding regulatory balance that for years allowed the internet to grow and thrive."
New FCC Chair Ajit Pai believes the net neutrality regulations go too far.
In 2015, the FCC changed the classification of broadband to treat the service like a public utility -- requiring equal access with the same speeds to receive information. Broadband and wireless providers say the regulations are based on an outdated law designed for the old telephone network and that they hamper their investments in networks.
The major tech companies are open to legislative compromise.
In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Walden said: "Your company has played a significant part in the public conversation to date, and your input would be invaluable as we start to move beyond conversation toward bipartisan legislation the prevents anticompetitive practices such as throttling and blocking.
"With your help, I know we can craft a fair, predictable and sustainable solution that not only benefits Edge Providers and Internet Service Providers, but also the billions of consumers worldwide that deserve a free and open internet."
Zuckerberg earlier wrote in a Facebook post: "If a service provider can block you from seeing certain content or can make you pay extra for it, that hurts all of us and we should have rules against it. Right now, the FCC has rules in place to make sure the Internet continues to be an open platform for everyone. At Facebook, we strongly support those rules."
Democrats and net neutrality supporters back the current FCC protections that require Internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, is worried the Internet providers will have too much power.
"As a guy right now that has listened to Donald Trump, who is the president, who has the power of the pen, I don't want to go to work on legislation that he is not going to approve because he has a very different philosophy than I do," Booker told Recode. "I think we should have net neutrality. [Trump] is saying, let corporations be able to do the kind of things ... all the kind of things [that] we, who believe in net neutrality, are fighting against."