Association of tech giants including Google and Facebook turns the screw on FCC over net neutrality rules, plans a publicity campaign
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has once again been criticised over its proposed rules governing ‘net neutrality’.
The renewed pressure comes after the The Internet Association submitted its comments, which urge the FCC to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules for both wired and mobile networks in the United States.
Two Speed Internet
The Internet Association is made up of companies including the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo and Netflix to name but a few. It is demanding that the FCC take strong and decisive action to guarantee an open Internet for the future.
“Preserving the Internet’s neutrality ensures that it remains an engine for economic growth, innovation, and democratic values,” said the association in its filing.
The filing comes amid deepening concern at the US plans which apparently pave the way towards two-speed Internet. In 2011, the FCC passed Net Neutrality rules designed to keep the Internet free and prevent service providers from blocking each others’ business, but in January this year, a lawsuit by Verizon brought a ruling that the US telecoms regulator could not force ISPs to treat all traffic equally – a decision widely criticised by freedom of speech campaigners at the time. The FCC said then it would propose a new set of rules rather than try and appeal the decision.
The FCC is currently seeking feedback on its proposed legislation, which includes a controversial provision allowing businesses to pay Internet service providers for faster content delivery. Major representatives of the US tech industry have already spoken out strongly against the proposal, and now the Internet Association is said to be planning a publicity campaign to highlight the FCC plans.
“Segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users,” said Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of The Internet Association. “The FCC must act to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules and apply them equally to both wireless and wireline providers.”
Essentially, the Internet Association is seeking three things in order to secure and preserve an open Internet for the future. Firstly, it believes the Internet should be free from censorship, discrimination and anticompetitive behaviour, and protected by simple and enforceable rules that ensure a consumer’s equal access to the content they want.
Secondly it believes that broadband subscribers should get the bandwidth they pay for, and that critically, all content should be treated equally, without degradation in speed or quality, i.e. no artificial slow lanes.
And thirdly the associations demands that all networks (both wireless and wired), should have equal protection. This means that no matter how users choose to connect to the Internet, net neutrality rules should apply.
“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,” said Beckerman.
“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.”
The Internet Association also expressed concern about the fact that ISPs in the United States are already discriminating against certain sources and types of Internet traffic in real-time.
The decision in the United States could have possible implications in the UK and further aboard. In April, the EU parliament approved plans to enshrine Net Neutrality in European law, but they have to be adopted by individual member states.
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