Several tech organizations have joined forces with Mozilla to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reinstate net neutrality rules that were stripped away during the time of President Donald Trump.
ADT, Dropbox, Reddit, Eventbrite, Vimeo, and Wikimedia joined Mozilla, known for the Mozilla Firefox browser, in sending a letter to FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on Friday. The letter called net neutrality “critical for preserving the internet as a free and open medium that promotes innovation and spurs economic growth.”
The idea of net neutrality has been hotly debated in recent years. In simple terms, it refers to the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data equally and not throttle services for websites. The Obama Administration certified and protected net neutrality by reclassifying ISPs with Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, making ISPs “common carriers” subject to more extensive regulation. Under the Trump Administration, then-chairman Ajit Pai moved to reverse the rule and succeeded despite legal challenges from Mozilla at the time.
While ISPs haven’t done much without these net neutrality laws in place, advocates continue to raise concerns over potential moves internet providers could make – and have been making. One such example is how AT&T doesn’t include HBO Max streaming against data caps as the company owns the streaming service.
AT&T announced that it would do away with the agreement after federal courts upheld a California net neutrality law preventing “sponsored data.” AT&T announced the change would apply to the country as it would be “unworkable” to create a state-by-state approach. California developed a state-wide net neutrality law after the FCC rolled back the federal law.
Mozilla chief Legal Officer Amy Keating said in a recent blog post that the coronavirus pandemic highlights the need for net neutrality and the importance of the internet as a whole.
“In a moment where classrooms and offices have moved online by necessity, it is critically important to have rules paired with strong government oversight and enforcement to protect families and businesses from predatory practices,” Keating said. “In California, residents will have the benefit of these fundamental safeguards as a result of a recent court decision that will allow the state to enforce its state net neutrality law. However, we believe that users nationwide deserve the same ability to control their own online experiences.”