Netflix re-commits to fight for net neutrality after CEO backs out

In a case of bandaging wounds after shooting itself on the foot, Netflix says it will fight for net neutrality despite its CEO Reed Hastings declaring Netflix is not interested since they are now “big enough to get the deals (they want.)”

Netflix tweeted on Thursday it “will never outgrow the fight for Net Neutrality” and joined the Battle of the Net campaign, which seeks to push back on the Federal Communication Commission’s actions to weaken its own net neutrality regulations passed in 2015. Amazon, Reddit and Etsy have also signed onto the campaign.

Internet companies and civil rights organizations like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are gathering to pressure a Republican-majority FCC from overturning regulations which prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking content or prioritizing some content over others for possible financial gain.

Republican FCC Chairperson Ajit Pai stated the 2015 regulations were too hard on the ISPs and argued the “bureaucratic straitjacket” slowed ISPs from investing in more broadband access and further innovating.

The Battle for the Net campaign picked June 12 as a day of action, although it’s not clear what the action will be.

If it’s anything like a similar day of action in 2014, companies who signed on will deliberately slow down its own Internet speed to convey what a non-net neutral Internet may look like.

This action, understandably, is not appealing to Netflix, who’s grown into an industry leader in Internet video. Its business relies its large catalog of movies and TV shows and its ease of use in quickly picking what to watch, so making it hard for consumers to select and view content for a political message may be hard to stomach for Netflix.

But just three years ago, Netflix was an outspoken supporter for net neutrality. After the FCC’s 2010 net neutrality rules got struck down in court thanks to ISP influence, Netflix wrote in January 2014 to ISPs to uphold net neutrality principles or face their wrath.

“Were this draconian scenario to unfold with some ISP,” Netflix wrote, “we would vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open internet they are paying their ISP to deliver.”

It’s no surprise why so many net neutrality supporters were disheartened when Hastings pivoted away from his company’s previous position in recent months.

“The Trump FCC is going to unwind the rules no matter what anybody says,” Hastings said last month at Code Conference. “We had to carry the water when we were growing up and we were small. Other companies have to be on that leading edge.”

Less than a month later, Netflix selectively reversed on Hastings’ position.

“It’s true the weakening of US net neutrality laws will unlikely materially impact Netflix’s business or service, but we wouldn’t be where we are today without an open internet,” a Netflix spokesperson wrote to The Verge. “There are other companies for whom this is a bigger issue, and we support strong net neutrality protections to ensure the next Netflix has a fair shot to go the distance.”

Photo: Netflix is joining the Battle for the Net campaign to save net neutrality regulations despite CEO Reed Hastings’ comments. (AP Photo/Dan Goodman)


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