Internet experts, leaders, and pioneers, including “father of the internet” Vint Cerf and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, are urging Congress to reconsider its plan to repeal net neutrality.
In an open letter published Monday and signed by more than 20 individuals, the signatories accuse the plan of being “based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology.”
The plan in question, the proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order, seeks to remove net neutrality protections that were introduced in 2015. These protections sought to ensure that internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Comcast, and TimeWarner treat web content equally and do not block or prioritize some content over others in return for payment. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the order on December 14. It is expected to be approved.
The letter notes that these flaws and inaccuracies had already been documented in detail in a 43-page comment, which had been “signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers” and submitted to the FCC on July 17 of this year. Nevertheless, the letter highlights a few of the issues with the proposed plan, noting that, among others, it would allow Internet providers to block content, affect the speed of services, and would repeal oversight over other “unreasonable discrimination and unreasonable practices.” Most importantly, the plan does not include implementing an “adequate replacement” for existing FCC oversight, which protects consumers, markets, and innovation.
The letter also criticizes the FCC’s procedure for determining the vote, noting that more than 23 million comments were submitted by the public, which the FCC “could not possibly” have considered adequately. Further, the FCC has not hosted any public forums from which to hear from the public. Finally, with regard to a number of issues with the online comment system including bot-generated comments and an “unexplained outage,” the FCC “failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about these incidents.”
The signatories conclude by calling for the vote to be canceled, saying, “The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed Order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.”