Apple comes out in support of net neutrality

After a long silence on the issue, Apple defended net neutrality in a letter to the FCC Thursday.

Tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon have long expressed their support for the current net neutrality regulations, but Apple had stayed quiet about them. The FCC is considering rolling back Obama-era regulations that treated internet service providers as public utilities, subject to tougher scrutiny to ensure all internet traffic is treated equally and fairly.

Now Apple says in its letter that it remains “open to alternative sources of legal authority” that also ensure the principle of net neutrality. 

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Our deep respect for our customers’ security, privacy, and control over personal information extends to our customers’ broadband connectivity choices,” wrote Cynthia Hogan, Apple’s vice president of public policy in the Americas. “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 specifically urged the FCC and its chairman, Ajit Pai, not to reverse a ban against “fast lanes,” which allow providers to increase or decrease internet speeds for different content. As owners of Apple Music, Apple TV and other content-providing services, Apple fears companies will pay providers to ensure their content is prioritized over others.

Paid fast lanes could replace today’s content-neutral transmission of internet traffic with differential treatment of content based on an online providers’ ability or willingness to pay,” wrote Hogan. “The result would be an internet with distorted competition where online providers are driven to reach deals with broadband providers or risk being stuck in the slow lane and losing customers due to lower quality service.”

The three-page letter is organized as an appeal to Pai based on specific free-market principles, such as innovation. Pai said previously that the rollback was necessary because the regulations were straitjacketing providers’ ability to introduce innovative technologies to the market.

On Wednesday, the three-month-long public comment period on the proposed rollback ended, garnering a record 22 million comments. The Internet Association, a trade group of Silicon Valley’s largest companies, also wrote a letter in support of net neutrality.

“Americans overwhelmingly support strong, enforceable net neutrality rules at the FCC,” wrote Internet Association President Michael Beckerman. “There is simply no reasonable justification for repealing the net neutrality protections currently on the books.

Photo: The Apple logo hangs on the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue on August 5, 2015 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)


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