A sizable coalition of technology companies has today taken a stand in favor of net neutrality in the form of a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The group, led by giants including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, and Yahoo, challenges a proposal the FCC is considering that threatens net neutrality.
While the letter does not explicitly mention a course of action — like calling on the FCC to regulate internet service providers as utilities — the coalition strongly espouses the benefits of an open internet. "The Commission's long-standing commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open internet are a central reason why the internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth," the group writes. "This Commission should take the necessary steps to ensure that the internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce so that America continues to lead the world in technology markets."
The letter marks a first time some influential tech companies, like Amazon, have formally expressed a stance on net neutrality regulations since news of the FCC proposal broke on April 23rd. The letter signifies that technology companies have found a united front in calling for open internet rules that preserve the key non-discrimination principle of net neutrality.
While the FCC's rules are still in the proposal phase, they have been widely condemned by internet advocates. The proposal may also face fresh internal scrutiny; today, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called for a time-out on the rules, challenging the proposal's viability. If the FCC still decides to move forward, it will officially consider the rules on May 15th — but its uphill climb for public approval is now steeper than ever.
The full text of the letter can be read below, and a full list of signatories can be seen here.
Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Reilly: We write to express our support for a free and open internet. Over the past twenty years, American innovators have created countless Internet-based applications, content offerings, and services that are used around the world. These innovations have created enormous value for Internet users, fueled economic growth, and made our Internet companies global leaders. The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination. An open Internet has also been a platform for free speech and opportunity for billions of users.
The Commission’s long-standing commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open Internet are a central reason why the Internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth.
According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them. If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet.
Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission’s rules should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrim- ination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent. The rules should provide certainty to all market participants and keep the costs of regulation low.
Such rules are essential for the future of the Internet. This Commission should take the necessary steps to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce so that America continues to lead the world in technology markets.