Following a proposal that many fear threatens net neutrality, a plethora of tech companies today have come together to support net neutrality in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The group is led by Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, and Twitter, as well as many others. Notably missing, however, is Apple.
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The letter voices disapproval of a recent proposal that would allow people to pay more in order to gain a higher priority from their internet service provider. The letter focuses on keeping the internet open, and perhaps treated as a utility. The companies make the case that with this new paid prioritization proposition, ISPs would be discriminating both technically and financially against internet companies
“If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet,” the letter reads. While the companies don’t offer a specific course of action to avoid this issue, they do plead that the FCC should do something to prevent the possibility of discrimination and paid prioritization, and in turn make the market for internet services more transparent.
The letter is signed by more than 50 tech companies. In addition to the aforementioned tech powers, eBay, Reddit, Tumblr, Kickstarter, OpenDNS, Zynga, and Foursquare have also all signed the letter. Notably missing, however, are the major carriers, ISPs, and Apple.
There’s no obvious reasoning that Apple would not want to sign the letter. Being that more than 50 other companies signed, it does seem odd that Apple didn’t. Of course, there’s always a chance that Apple will release a separate statement about the issue. Although, the company has been rather quiet on net neutrality so far. It’s possible that with enough support from the companies already in this coalition, however, that Apple could join at some point.
The full letter is below (via The Verge).
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.