Target: Tom Wheeler, Federal Communications Commission Chairman
Goal: Demand open and neutral access to the internet
The role of the Federal Communications Commission has changed over time. From regulating radio and television providers, the FCC went on to assist with the breakup of telephone monopolies in order to protect consumers. In the age of the internet, the FCC’s role has become even more complex. As recently as 2010, the agency argued that internet service providers should not be allowed to give “paid prioritization” to certain content over others. And yet recently appointed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is now insisting that the opposite is true.
The FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Rule is quite clear, stating that “broadband providers that sought to offer pay-for-priority services would have an incentive to limit the quality of service provided to non-prioritized traffic.” For the average internet user, this would mean that viewing content from major corporations would be a breeze, while content from independent sources would be slower to download, and therefore more difficult to view. Imagine having difficulty accessing any news but that from corporate media!
But in Wheeler’s own words, “the marketplace is where these decisions ought to be made, and the functionality of a competitive marketplace dictates the degree of regulation.” Not surprisingly, Wheeler used to be a lobbyist for cable and wireless companies. He continues to look out for their best interests, rather than those of the consumers as his new regulatory role demands. Send Wheeler a clear message: protect net neutrality, and protect open access to the internet.
Dear Tom Wheeler, Federal Communications Commission Chairman,
Your recent stance on net neutrality is cause for grave concern. While the FCC clearly supported open access to the internet with its 2010 Open Internet Rule, you have come out in support of the very pay-for-priority services that the rule sought to prevent.
A neutral internet is the truest expression of the free market at work. Consumer choice is lead by the quality of content, allowing innovators to thrive. By artificially steering consumers towards content from major corporations who can pay for faster access, the quality of internet content suffers, and so does innovation. The only people who stand to benefit from the end of net neutrality are internet service providers, who have admitted they will prioritize their own content above that of competitors.
An appeals court is expected to rule in the Verizon vs. FCC case by the end of 2013, determining whether or not the Open Internet Rule your predecessor helped enact will be unenforceable. But even should the rule be upheld, how can it be enforced when the person tasked to enforce it so clearly disagrees with its tenets? I insist that you uphold the FCC’s Open Internet Rule, and not in such a way that allows for paid prioritization. Fulfill the oath of your office, and protect net neutrality.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Camilo Sanchez via Wikimedia