William P. Barr, President Trump’s pick to become the nation’s next Attorney General, is a former chief lawyer for Verizon who has opposed net neutrality rules for more than a decade. “Barr, who served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush from 1991-93, warned in 2006 that ‘network neutrality regulations would discourage construction of high-speed internet lines that telephone and cable giants are spending tens of billions of dollars to deploy,'” reports Fast Company. From the report: Barr’s appointment would be welcome news for at least three major internet service providers and a trade organization — including Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association — that have spent more than $600 million lobbying on Capitol Hill since 2008, according to a MapLight analysis. Their lobbying on a key issue was rewarded last December, when the Federal Communications Commission, led by another former Verizon lawyer-turned-Trump appointee, overruled popular opinion by voting to scrap rules that banned internet companies from giving preferential treatment to particular websites or charging consumers more for different types of content.
Barr’s previous employment with Verizon foreshadows credibility problems similar to those faced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, also a former Verizon lawyer. Barr, however, is likely to face even more scrutiny stemming from his role as a member of WarnerMedia’s board of directors. The entertainment conglomerate, which includes HBO, Turner Broadcasting, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Group, was created in the aftermath of AT&T’s 2016 purchase of Time Warner Inc. […] Barr has argued that net neutrality rules will discourage internet service providers from investing in high-end delivery systems, such as fiber-optic networks. “Companies are going to make these kinds of investments only if they see an opportunity to earn a return that is commensurate with the risk, and only if they have the freedom to innovate, differentiate, and make commercially sensible decisions that they need to compete and win in the market,” he said at a 2006 Federalist Society convention. Barr also claimed that 81 percent of the nation’s roughly 40,000 zip codes have three or more choices of broadband providers. A PC Magazine study last year found that to be untrue, with only 30 percent of 20,000 zip codes having three or more broadband options.
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