After several tech giants, including Google and Facebook, supported Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plan to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules, Apple called on the US communications regulatory agency to keep “strong, enforceable open internet protections”. “An open internet ensures that hundreds of millions of consumers get the experience they want, over the broadband connections they choose, to use the devices they love, which have become an integral part of their lives,” Cynthia Hogan, Apple’s Vice President of Public Policy, said in a letter to the agency.
The FCC, led by its Chairman Ajit Pai, voted in May to start the formal process of unwinding the 2015 rules. Those rules treat regulation of internet more like that of a public utility such as water or electricity and prohibit broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast from creating a tiered system of access, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.
Under the current net neutrality rules, it is illegal for companies to offer a high-speed lane to corporations able to pay more or to effectively slow a rival service.
The FCC’s proposal asks whether the agency should eliminate the rule banning Internet service providers from creating fast lanes (or slow lanes) that could favour one service over another, which critics say could allow them to pick winners and losers online. Pai has said the regulations stifle corporate innovation and investment and are not necessary to guaranteeing an “open internet”.
However, Apple argued that paid fast lines should not replace “content-neutral transmission of internet traffic,”. The tech giant has also called for increased competition and transparency in the broadband market. “We work hard to build great products, and what consumers do with those tools is up to them – not Apple, and not broadband providers. Apple therefore believes that the Federal Communications Commission should retain strong, enforceable open internet protections,” the letter said.
Apple said the current rules reflect open internet principles and that those principles “should form the foundation of any net neutrality framework going forward”. “Simply put, the internet is too important to consumers and too essential to innovation to be left unprotected and uncertain,” the company said in the letter.
Cloud major Oracle had voiced support for Pai’s plan to roll back its net neutrality rules.
Oracle wrote a letter to the FCC and played up its “perspective as a Silicon Valley technology company”, hammering the debate over the rules as a “highly political hyperbolic battle”, that is “removed from technical, economic, and consumer reality”. Other companies — like AT&T and Verizon — that support Pai’s plan have made an argument that the rules stifled investment in the telecommunications sector, specifically in broadband infrastructure.