Mozilla, along with a coalition of companies, has sent a letter to the FCC asking for the reinstatement of net neutrality.
Net neutrality rules were passed during the Obama administration and repealed during the Trump administration. Net neutrality prohibits companies from treating different services or types of internet traffic by different standards, or setting up internet “fast lanes” for companies that pay more.
For example, AT&T customers were able to watch HBO Max — which AT&T owns — on their mobile devices without the streaming counting against their data plans. In contrast, competing streaming services did count. If this type of practice became widespread, it could cause users to gravitate toward or away from certain services, based solely on the whims of the carriers and internet providers with a financial motivation to push or punish a particular service.
In the case of AT&T, they announced they are dropping their preferential treatment of HBO Max as a result of California’s net neutrality legislation. While net neutrality was killed on a national level, individual states are free to impose their own rules, setting up a potential legislative quagmire.
Mozilla, ADT, Dropbox, Eventbrite, Reddit, Vimeo and Wikimedia have now sent a letter to the FCC asking the agency to reinstate federal-level net neutrality.
We are writing to express our support for the reinstatement of net neutrality protections through Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action. As leading internet-based businesses and organizations, we believe that these fundamental safeguards are critical for preserving the internet as a free and open medium that promotes innovation and spurs economic growth. Net neutrality enjoys bipartisan support among the American public, and many may need to rely on protections enforced by the FCC as more offices and classrooms continue to shift to online settings during the pandemic. By using its authority to restore net neutrality at the federal level, the FCC can help protect families and businesses across the country that rely on high-speed broadband access and help spark our recovery.
Net neutrality simply preserves the environment that has allowed the internet to become an engine for economic growth. The rules serve as protections that users have in their relationship with internet service providers, preventing ISPs from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing traffic for payment. And in an environment where users frequently lack meaningful choices between ISPs, net neutrality can ultimately encourage greater long-term investment across the network stack by promoting broadband buildout, faster service, and new applications.
While the current administration has not commented on its intentions, some experts believe it is only a matter of time before net neutrality is reinstated. Given the digital transformation underway, such legislation would go a long way toward protecting all users and companies.