Mozilla enters net neutrality lobbying fight

Mozilla enters net neutrality lobbying fight
© Greg Nash

Internet nonprofit Mozilla is jumping in on the Washington, D.C., influence fight over the fate of net neutrality.

In a lobbying disclosure form released on Monday, the company said that it would be hiring Kountoupes Denham LLC, a D.C. consultancy to lobby on its behalf regarding cybersecurity and the open internet.

The firm has previously lobbied on net neutrality issues on behalf of technology interests like Intel and the Google-backed Internet Association, a internet company trade group that represents the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft.

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The disclosure and hire is Mozilla’s first for 2017. The move comes amid an escalating fight over Obama-era net neutrality rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015. The rules, officially known as the Open Internet Order, aim to create a level playing field on the internet by forcing broadband providers to treat all web content equally.

On Thursday, the battle hit a new flashpoint when the FCC voted in favor of considering Chairman Pai’s proposal to roll back net neutrality measures.

Other internet interests have lobbied on net neutrality issues in recent months, including Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft.

Broadband providers like Verizon, AT&T and Charter Communications have tried to match their efforts, also spending money on lobbying in favor of rolling back net neutrality regulations, which they argue stifle investment in broadband infrastructure.

The nonprofit’s lobbying spending on cybersecurity comes at a time when the area is getting increased attention as well.

President Trump’s cybersecurity executive order earlier in the month directed Washington’s attention to an area that many experts think has been underserved. The massive WannaCry ransomware cyberattacks amplified this.

“Over the last year, we have seen many instances where hacking tools from the U.S. government have been posted online, and then used – by unknown adversaries – to attack users,” Mozilla said in a blogpost on Wednesday.

“We hope they will instead work with technology companies to help protect all of us online.”