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Google, Facebook, more than 100 other tech companies pressure FCC on net neutrality


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has come under fire from both members of his own staff and now, a coalition of the country's largest tech companies.

A coalition of more than 100 of the world’s top tech companies have come out to support net neutrality as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler faces a revolt within his own ranks. In a letter submitted to the FCC, a group led by Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Netflix publicly advocated for a free and open Internet, in what may be the most significant condemnation of the agency’s new proposals.

“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,” the coalition said.

While the group waxed poetic on the value of net neutrality, it stopped short of proposing any concrete moves for preserving an open Internet. “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 … 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, 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,” the letter read. 

As dissent for the FCC proposals continue to grow, cracks have started to widen within the agency itself. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel recently said that she had “real concerns” about the new proposals and called for a delay on the vote for the proposals for “at least a month.” 

“While I recognize 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 … I believe that rushing headlong into a rulemaking next week fails to respect the public response to his proposal,” she said. 

An update from Re/Code claims that Wheeler has rejected Rosenworcel’s call for a delay in the vote. According to an FCC spokesperson, the chairman believes that the process would allow people to see the proposal. 

If you want to add your own voice to the argument, you can still submit your comments at the FCC’s website. Rosenworcel’s reason for requesting a delay was a “torrent of public response,” so it seems that  public outcry has an impact on the FCC’s decision-making, even though Wheeler may just decide to ignore that altogether.

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