Pioneers, inventors, and proponents of the internet have come after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in an open letter urging the agency to cancel a forthcoming vote to repeal existing net neutrality protections.
Top Internet Figures Pen Open Letter To FCC
The letter, though courteous and polite, isn't mincing words. Among the signatories were world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, internet pioneer Steven M. Bellovin, Mozilla Foundation executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker, and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak himself.
They're saying to the FCC: You don't really understand how the internet works. Your order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of internet technology.
"We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood," the letter began.
"This proposed Order would repeal key network neutrality protections that prevent Internet access providers from blocking content, websites and applications, slowing or speeding up services or classes of service, and charging online services for access or fast lanes to Internet access providers' customers."
FCC's Plan To Kill Net Neutrality
The FCC is expected to gut net neutrality rules come Dec. 14, a possibly historic inflection point proponents of killing net neutrality are looking forward to and opponents are dreading and are doing everything to fight. According to current regulations, internet service providers aren't allowed to distinguish between online content: Video is as important as a web page. Facebook is accessed in the same bandwidth as Netflix.
Without net neutrality, ISPs are allowed to throw all this away, opening the doors for a "tiered internet," in which different kinds of online content are treated differently. Want to access Facebook? Pay up. Want to watch Netflix? Pay more.
Equally concerning is the disadvantage smaller companies will be put in without net neutrality protections in place. Imagine Netflix talking to ISPs and paying them huge fees to make sure its streaming site loads faster for all customers than other competitors.
The open letter comes as a last-ditch attempt to convince commissioners not to kill net neutrality. Will it yield any success? That remains to be seen on Dec. 14. There's nothing quite like pioneers of the internet telling the FCC that they've failed to understand how the internet works.
Considering that it's signed by a significantly impressive list of technology figures, the effort might just work. If it fails, that means even the pioneers of the internet couldn't save the internet.