‘The fight isn’t over’: Tech erupts after the FCC’s vote to kill net neutrality

A supporter of net neutrality in Los Angeles protesting the Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal the program.

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A supporter of net neutrality in Los Angeles protesting the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal the program.
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Thomson Reuters

  • Tech companies and executives spoke out in disappointment about the Federal Communications Commission’s decision Thursday to repeal net neutrality, with some expressing interest in appealing the decision in court.
  • The tech community has supported net neutrality since the FCC’s intention to repeal was announced.

Tech executives from Sheryl Sandberg to Microsoft’s Brad Smith spoke out Thursday to decry the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to kill net neutrality.

The move by the FCC eliminates rules designed to stop broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon from charging customers more for access to certain sites, blocking or slowing down competitors’ content, and charging for internet “fast lanes.”

Groups that support net neutrality argue that the rules are necessary to ensure a level internet playing field. And many of the big internet companies wasted no time in speaking out against the FCC move.

Here’s how some of the top tech companies and industry executives reacted to Thursday’s vote:

Netflix

Internet Association

Michael Beckerman, the president and CEO of Internet Association, an industry organization whose members include Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce, issued a statement on IA’s website with plans to fight back.

“The internet industry opposes Chairman Pai’s repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order. Today’s vote represents a departure from more than a decade of broad, bipartisan consensus on the rules governing the internet. Relying on ISPs to live up to their own ‘promises’ is not net neutrality and is bad for consumers.

“Let’s remember why we have these rules in the first place. There is little competition in the broadband service market – more than half of all Americans have no choice in their provider – so consumers will be forced to accept ISP interference in their online experience. This is in stark contrast to the websites and apps that make up Internet Association, where competition is a click away and switching costs are low.

“The fight isn’t over. Internet Association is currently weighing our legal options in a lawsuit against today’s Order, and remains open to Congress enshrining strong, enforceable net neutrality protections into law.”

Google

Reddit

Reddit’s user community has been incredibly active in speaking out against the repeal of net neutrality, and the company itself also supports net neutrality.

On Reddit, CEO Steve Huffman issued a statement from him and the cofounder Alexis Ohanian thanking users for their activism and expressing disappointment and the desire to fight back.

“Nevertheless, today’s vote is the beginning, not the end. While the fight to preserve net neutrality is going to be longer than we had hoped, this is far from over.

“Many of you have asked what comes next. We don’t exactly know yet, but it seems likely that the FCC’s decision will be challenged in court soon, and we would be supportive of that challenge. It’s also possible that Congress can decide to take up the cause and create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules that aren’t subject to the political winds at the FCC. Nevertheless, this will be a complex process that takes time.

“What is certain is that Reddit will continue to be involved in this issue in the way that we know best: seeking out every opportunity to amplify your voices and share them with those who have the power to make a difference.”

Read the full comment here.

Twilio

Business Insider received a statement from Twilio, written by the company’s general counsel, Karyn Smith.

“Today’s vote to roll back net neutrality protections is a clear indication the FCC is moving away from its role to protect consumers. An open internet is vital to maintain competition and foster innovation – and for that we need basic ground rules and a transparent process to enforce them. We look forward to working with Congress to enact basic ground rules and a transparent process to enforce them. They should also direct the FCC to use its authority to ensure that consumers have access to the communications they want to receive.”

Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, spoke out on Twitter:

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, spoke out on her personal Facebook page.

Airbnb’s cofounder and CEO, Brian Chesky, weighed in via Twitter, speaking for himself and his company.