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ICYMI- Discrimination has no place on the Internet
Discrimination has no place on the Internet
Posted: September 13, 2014


Since its inception as a small network designed to help academics share their research and computing resources, the Internet has been self-regulated and governed by principles of openness and non-discrimination. Now an interconnected global network of more than 2.5 billion users — a network of networks — the Internet flourishes with its decentralized governance model and open architecture.

As it turns out, its decentralized and open model is the Internet’s “secret sauce.” Because of its unique nature, free from the control of any government or corporation, the Internet has been a laboratory for invention and innovation. It has unleashed unprecedented entrepreneurialism and creativity. Its nearly non-existent barriers to entry are why the Internet is home to the most exciting new businesses and ideas. An open Internet has spawned thousands of new companies, concepts, markets and ways of doing business. Along the way, Internet companies have been significant drivers of economic growth and job creation.

That’s how the Internet works today: users can go to any website and access any type of content, whenever they want it on equal terms. That relationship is more than simply a commercial understanding; it is a universally shared value among Internet users.

As the Internet has matured, entrenched special interests have sought to control it. We are only two years removed from an unprecedented attempt by big Hollywood studios to censor web content and fundamentally alter the Internet’s DNA. This effort, known as SOPA/PIPA, was defeated when Internet users from all walks of life and from both sides of the political spectrum engaged with their elected representatives in Congress and opposed this anti-Internet legislation.

Today, the future of the Internet is in the hands of the FCC as it deliberates over rules that will prevent — or allow — broadband gatekeepers from charging tolls and erecting anti-competitive barriers for Internet users and content providers alike. And once again, Internet users are engaging in the democratic process to have their voices heard in support of an open and innovative Internet.

More than 1.4 million people and stakeholders have submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission, more than any other rulemaking in American history. According to a recent Sunlight Foundation analysis, 99 percent of these comments are in support of the FCC adopting strong net neutrality rules.

A segregated Internet

If the FCC does not stand with the Internet’s users, the open Internet that we all know and love could be replaced with a new fee-based structure where cable and wireless gatekeepers choose which websites will receive preferential treatment on closed networks. In this dystopian future, access charges will be foisted upon consumers and the Internet will be segregated into fast lanes for the “haves” and slow lanes for the “have-nots.” Internet users, their pocketbooks, and innovation lose if cable and wireless gatekeepers have their way.

This is why the fight over net neutrality is so critically important — nothing less than the future of the Internet as we know it is at stake.

Net neutrality is the principle that underpins the open Internet. In its simplest terms, it means that broadband gatekeepers — the Internet service providers consumers pay to get online — should treat all Internet traffic equally and not discriminate between different bits of data. Replacing the Internet’s open, non-discriminatory model with a system of tolls and fees will make it more difficult for many people to access the content they want.

The Internet Association, comprised of more than two dozen of the world’s most-recognized and successful Internet companies, is proud to stand with the Internet’s users in support of enforceable net neutrality rules. In a unified voice, the Internet Industry believes any rules should include three key tenets necessary to secure an open Internet for the future.

First: The Internet should be a place free from censorship, discrimination and anticompetitive behavior, protected by simple and enforceable rules to ensure consumers’ equal access to content.

Second: Broadband subscribers should get the bandwidth they are paying for — content should be treated equally, without degradations in speed or quality.

Third: No matter how users choose to connect to the Internet, open Internet rules should apply universally on both wireless and wireline networks.

The Internet Association and its member companies believe there is a compelling public interest for an open Internet, and we stand with the Internet’s vast community of users to keep it that way. We urge the FCC to listen to the people, and adopt these simple, enforceable rules to protect consumers and the open Internet, one of the greatest engines for growth, prosperity and progress the world has ever known.


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