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Democrats want answers from wireless carriers after alleged throttling

Senate Democrats/Flickr (CC-BY) Senate Democrats/Flickr (CC-BY) Senate Democrats/Flickr (CC-BY)

Three Democrats sent a letter to AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

Three Democratic senators are demanding answers from wireless providers after a study found popular websites and apps being slowed down, or throttled—a fear that advocates have warned about in the wake of net neutrality rules being rescinded.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter on Thursday to AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile demanding answers after an app called Wehe showed that internet traffic to numerous major websites and apps have been slowed down.

A study using Wehe found that YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and others were throttled.

“Through the use of the app Wehe, researchers recently identified numerous instances of cellular providers throttling video and communication services,” the lawmaker’s letter reads. “Such practices would violate the principles of net neutrality and unfairly treat consumers who are unaware that their carriers are selecting which services receive faster or slower treatment.”

The letter asks AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile to answer several questions, and asks them to provide a number of answers about potential throttling or “traffic discrimination.”

The senators asked for written responses to their questions by Dec. 6.

Sprint told Ars Technica that it would respond to the letter, and AT&T told the news outlet the research may not have been accurate. In a Bloomberg article in September, carriers said the speed changes in question were made to “manage internet traffic.”

Net neutrality advocates have warned about the possibility of internet service providers or wireless carriers speeding up or slowing down specific internet traffic. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rescinded net neutrality protections last year, taking away the rule that ensured all internet traffic be treated equally.

Markey and Blumenthal have also sent a letter to the FCC seeking answers about the agency’s controversial public comment system that was allegedly flooded with fake and fraudulent comments ahead of its net neutrality vote last year.

You can read all of Markey, Blumenthal, and Wyden’s letter here.

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Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).