May 7, 2014 Last Updated 5:33 pm

Internet companies sign onto letter to FCC in support of free and open web

The major Internet companies, minus AOL and Apple, signed onto a letter to the FCC today, urging the commissioners to preserve a free and open Internet. The letter was signed by Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo! – 149 companies in total.

The FCC is considering rules that many believe will lead to dividing the Internet between the fast lane and everything else. The FCC chairman is Tom Wheeler, the former President of the National Cable Television Association and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, and as a former lobbyist is expected to push for rules that benefit the ISPs at the expense of Internet companies and the public. Not surprisingly, Republicans and conservative media fear the Internet companies will push for the FCC to create new regulations preventing ISPs from implementing a tiered approach to broadband services.

Here is the letter:

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington D.C. 20554

May 7, 2014

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.

Meanwhile, FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn posted a comment on the FCC’s blog, stating her views ahead of the May 15 vote to move forward with new rules.

There is no doubt that preserving and maintaining a free and open Internet is fundamental to the core values of our democratic society, and I have an unwavering commitment to its independence. My mind remains open as I continue to evaluate how best to promote these fundamental, core values.

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