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article imageInternet pioneers urge FCC to cancel net neutrality vote

By James Walker     Dec 12, 2017 in Technology
Over 20 pioneers credited with inventing the web have penned a letter to the FCC. The leaders explain how the FCC's intention to repeal net neutrality is based on "flawed and factually inaccurate" understanding of the web, demanding the vote is cancelled.
Rushed order
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and public-key cryptography inventor Whitfield Diffie are amongst the signatories of the letter. It attacks FCC chairman Ajit Pai's "rushed and technically incorrect" proposed order to abolish net neutrality. A vote to repeal the legislation is scheduled for December 14th.
According to the tech pioneers, the FCC has fundamental misconceptions of how the Internet works. In July, 200 prominent Internet engineers sent a 43-page comment to the FCC detailing the flaws in its understanding.
The FCC has not corrected its misunderstandings, reconsidered its approach to the issue or acknowledged its factual inaccuracies. The company instead based its proposed order on the same technical flaws already raised in the comment.
"It should be stopped"
The letter also highlights the FCC's decision not to hold open meetings with the public. Its online comments system was tampered with and over a million comments filed fraudulently using real names. The FCC has not investigated the problems and has failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests for data on the suspect comments.
"We therefore call on you to urge FCC Chairman Pai to cancel the FCC's vote," wrote the tech pioneers. "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."
Internet fast lane
Net neutrality is the principle that all data travelling on the Internet should be given an equal priority. The FCC's current regulations, introduced in 2015, obligate Internet service providers to uphold net neutrality.
Without the legislation, providers would be allowed to differentiate between services. Large companies could pay the provider to have their content delivered on a faster connection, making it easier to retain customers.
The loss of net neutrality would particularly harm smaller online services unable to pay for a "fast lane." Their competitors could reach customers faster, so establishing a new digital business would become harder.
The FCC has consistently claimed that regulation of broadband companies isn't its role and that net neutrality legislation could harm infrastructure investment. A vote on the issue will take place this Thursday, unless the FCC concedes to the widespread calls for it to cancel pending further investigation.
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