Net Neutrality Groups Press FCC
Free Press, the organization behind SaveTheInternet.com, responded to the Federal Communications Commission’s expressed intent to investigate Comcast and Verizon Wireless over alleged content blocking. The group urged the FCC to respond quickly in order to protect the free flow of information on all networks.
Free Press was joined by Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and a swath of legal scholars in filing complaints with the FCC after Comcast was accused of interfering with BitTorrent traffic and Verizon Wireless blocked text messages sent by a pro-choice group.
Their complaints were joined by over 23,000 letters written to the FCC calling for an investigation. The FCC announced yesterday that the regulatory agency would look into it.
Free Press is hoping they do more than that, though. They want action.
"Free speech should be protected everywhere — whether it’s text messages, phone calls, e-mails or the Internet," said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press. "The FCC has started to respond to a growing public outcry, but they shouldn’t drag their feet. Companies like Comcast and Verizon have showed repeatedly that they can’t be trusted. Without quick and decisive action, they’ll keep blocking, manipulating and interfering."
Comcast has denied blocking content, which may be a mere semantic argument. The company did say it was delaying some transmissions in order to optimize traffic flow across its network, a practice known as traffic-shaping.
This practice is one of the concerns among the Net Neutrality crowd since it amounts to companies, like in the situation with Comcast and BitTorrent, deciding what type of content and traffic gets priority. The fear is that ISPs have incentive to abuse their power.
"There’s nothing reasonable about the way Comcast is secretly censoring what its customers can do on the Internet," said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press. "Comcast is using Web filtering technologies similar to those used in China to censor the Internet. This egregious violation of Net Neutrality must be addressed by the FCC immediately."
Scott warns that a slap on the wrist or failure to act quickly will not send a strong enough message to ISPs about interfering with their customers’ transmissions.
"The FCC must send a stern warning to any phone or cable company that would try to control our Internet experience," Scott said. "The longer the FCC waits to punish Comcast and Verizon, the more these companies will invest in technologies to censor and manipulate what we can do online and over the public airwaves. Censorship and blocking our access to the Internet should never be tolerated."