In a rare public stand for the internet retailer, Amazon has come out against the Federal Communications Commission’s purported plan to bifurcate the internet into faster and slow lanes as part of its new network neutrality rules. Amazon joins a list of more than 100 tech firms that include expected names like Netflix and BitTorrent, but also surprises like the National Association of Realtors and Lyft, in signing a letter to the FCC Chairman and commissioners.
Other significant signatories include Facebook, Google, Kickstarter, Twilio, Codecademy, OpenDNS, Zynga, Tumblr, Reddit and Foursquare. The letter protests the FCC’s plans to implement net neutrality rules that could let ISP’s charge content providers like Netflix or Amazon to deliver their packets faster or at a higher quality.
This proposed change in rules, which comes after the original network neutrality rules implemented in 2010 were struck down by a U.S. Federal Court of Appeals earlier this year, has caused the tech and media world to freak out about the death of the open internet. While the FCC has tried hard to downplay this threat, it has so far been unable to convince people knowledgeable about the industry that this plan isn’t a step back for the open internet.
Last week, tech companies visited D.C. to plead their case, and the letter sent to the FCC on Wednesday does the same. The letter comes out against paid prioritization, but offers Chairman Wheeler an out by blaming the media for possibly misunderstanding how he really intends to play this rule-making process. From the letter:
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 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.
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.
There are some notable tech names missing from the list of companies asking the FCC to consider how it plans to regulate broadband, but, perhaps with pressure from the current participants, they may get on board. Or maybe consumer outrage and the current signees are enough to convince the FCC it shouldn’t move ahead with its plans as they stand.