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Microsoft and Google among tech firms demanding net neutrality in FCC letter

Amazon, Dropbox and Facebook also onboard, but no sign of Apple
Thu May 08 2014, 12:06
Resignation letter

A COALITION of like-minded information technology (IT) companies has presented an open letter to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) demanding that it rethink its proposal for the future of net neutrality.

Unlike the recent proposal put forward by the Mozilla Foundation, it does not present an alternative approach, but concentrates instead on opposing the framework that the FCC proposed recently to almost universal criticism.

Despite FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's proclamation that it is "flat out wrong" to say that the suggested framework, which would see implementation of "fast lanes" for premium paying customers, would spell the end of net neutrality, there is a significant discomfort across the IT sector.

The letter refers to the FCC proposal as "a grave threat to the internet", going on to say, "Instead of permitting individualised bargaining and discrimination, the Commission's rules should protect users and internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritisation, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent."

The primary signatories are Amazon, Cogent, Dropbox, Ebay, Etsy, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, Kickstarter, Level 3, Linkedin, Lyft, Microsoft, Netflix, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vonage, Yahoo and Zynga, however, the full list of over 130 companies in the coalition reads like a who's who of internet firms, with Apple the only company notable by its absence.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel noted the backlash yesterday during a government meeting that was primarily about the future of libraries. She said, "I also support an open internet. So I have real concerns about FCC Chairman Wheeler's proposal on network neutrality - which is before the agency right now."

She urged caution, explaining that the public has a right to have a say and recommending a delay in any decision. "His proposal has unleashed a torrent of public response. Tens of thousands of e-mails, hundreds of calls, commentary all across the internet. We need to respect that input and we need time for that input. So while I recognise the urgency to move ahead and develop rules with dispatch, I think the greater urgency comes in giving the American public opportunity to speak right now, before we head down this road.

"For this reason, I think we should delay our consideration of his rules by a least a month. I believe that rushing headlong into a rulemaking next week fails to respect the public response to his proposal."

Today marks the beginning of the so-called "Sunshine Period" in the debate, during which further public comment is not accepted, however, Ms Rosenworcel voiced her objection to this deadline, reiterating that what is required most of all is more time to decide the future of the internet. µ


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