Amazon, Google, Reddit, Netflix, 4Chan, Dozens Others, Plead With FCC To Protect Net Neutrality

By on May 8, 2014

In perhaps the most motley crew (as opposed to Mötley Crüe) of tech and Internet companies ever assembled for a single cause, around 150 businesses representing everything from content and infrastructure to gaming, crowdfunding and 3-D printing have written the FCC to ask that it not completely screw up net neutrality.

The letter (full text below) is addressed to Chairman Tom Wheeler and his fellow FCC commissioners, though Wheeler is definitely the intended recipient, as it was his boneheaded idea to half-arse a second attempt at net neutrality by allowing so-called “fast lanes,” which would allow Internet service providers like Verizon to charge content companies a premium for faster and more reliable service to the end-user.

Chairman Wheeler maintains that his proposed neutrality rules would still be in the spirit of an unbiased Internet because they would prohibit ISPs from actively blocking or slowing down content. But that is only half the neutrality equation; the recently gutted FCC rules forbade giving anyone higher priority distribution of their data.

“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,” reads the letter. “If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet.”

The letter’s authors believe that neutrality rules “should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination, 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.”

It calls upon the FCC to “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.”

While the letter isn’t exactly the most scathing takedown of fast lanes, one has to appreciate both its plainspoken, common-sense approach to the subject, and the sheer number of companies that have signed on.

Whether the FCC heeds these companies’ call, or those from concerned consumers, remains to be seen. We’ll know more next week when the full commission votes on how to proceed with the draft introduced by Chairman Wheeler.

Below is the full text of the letter, complete with list of signatories: