With the FCC's window for public comment on its proposed 'net neutrality' rules closing this week, dozens of the Internet's most powerful corporate players—including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix—on Monday reasserted their opposition to creating 'digital fast lanes' that would give special treatment for content creators or web companies that pay extra fees.
Represented by their trade group, called The Internet Association, the companies called on the commission to take "strong and decisive action to guarantee an open Internet for the future" and stressed that such guidelines should apply equally to both wired and wireless content.
“There is a compelling public interest for an open Internet, and we stand with the Internet’s vast community of users to keep it that way. We urge the FCC to listen to the people, and adopt these simple, enforceable rules to protect an open Internet." —The Internet Association
“Segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users,” said the group's president and CEO Michael Beckerman. “The FCC must act to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules and apply them equally to both wireless and wireline providers."
These large players—though clearly self-interested as some of the companies that have reaped billions and billions of dollars in profit from the Internet's early—have voiced their defense of net neutrality before, but the new comments are more detailed and represent, they say, a new effort to put their sizeable thumbs on the scale of influence surrounding the debate.
“There is a compelling public interest for an open Internet, and we stand with the Internet’s vast community of users to keep it that way," the companies argues in their joint statement. "We urge the FCC to listen to the people, and adopt these simple, enforceable rules to protect an open Internet. That open and decentralized model is precisely what enabled the Internet to become one of the greatest engines for growth, prosperity and progress the world has ever known. Recent Court rulings have placed that model at risk, and the FCC must act to protect an open Internet for all.”
Specifically, the companies say their vision of net neutrality include three basic tenets:
1. Internet Users Should Get What They Want, When They Want It
The Internet should be free from censorship, discrimination and anticompetitive behavior, protected by simple and enforceable rules that ensure a consumer’s equal access to the content they want.
2. Internet Users Should Get What They Pay For
Broadband subscribers should get the bandwidth they are paying for – content should be treated equally, without degradations in speed or quality. No artificial slow lanes.
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3. All Networks Should Have Equal Protection
No matter how users choose to connect to the Internet, net neutrality rules should apply universally on both wireless and wireline networks.
According to recent reports, the FCC has received well over 650,000 public comments since the new rules were presented in May.
The official end of the public comment period is Tuesday, July 15 and consumer advocates of net neutrality, like Free Press, are urging people who support the "Open Internet" to continue to speak out.
Describing the importance of the upcoming FCC decision and the overall implications of net neutrality, Free Press explains:
Without Net Neutrality, ISPs like AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon will be able to block content and speech they don’t like, reject apps that compete with their own offerings, and prioritize Web traffic (reserving the fastest loading speeds for the highest bidders and sticking everyone else with the slowest).
The tools ISPs use to block and control our communications aren’t different from the ones the NSA uses to watch us. Whether it’s a government or a corporation wielding these tools or the two working together, this behavior breaks the Internet as we know it and makes it less open and secure.
We must fight to ensure that the Internet we love won’t simply become a platform for corporate speech or another tool for government spying. We must protect the Internet that lets us connect and create, that rejects censorship and values our right to privacy.
The Internet shouldn’t be a walled garden. It should remain a forum for innovation and free expression. As so many startups and political activists know, open, affordable, fast and universal communications networks are essential to our individual, economic and political futures.