Apple finally openly supports net neutrality

Posted September 04, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission is considering rolling back Obama-era regulations that treat internet service providers as public utilities, subject to tougher scrutiny to ensure all internet traffic is treated equally and fairly.

None of the CEOs of the major companies invited to attend had committed to testify, although Reuters reports that committee aides have held several meetings with representatives of the internet firms and service providers over recent weeks. In short, the company has opposed "Paid Prioritization" as it may lead to the creation of paid fast lanes on the Internet.

But on other net-neutrality issues, such as whether to reverse the Title II classification that gives the FCC authority over service providers, Apple is less specific.

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On the heels of setting the date for its big fall iPhone event, Apple is coming out swinging for net neutrality. "First, consumers need to be able to make informed choices about their purchase and use of broadband services", Cynthia C. Hogan, Vice President, Public Policy for Apple Inc. wrote in the letter.

Apple said the current rules reflect open internet principles and that those principles "should form the foundation of any net neutrality framework going forward". However, the FCC did not remove them and they would still count as opposition to the net neutrality rules. This means that many consumers can not switch providers even if they learn that their broadband provider interferes with the internet's openness in a way that they oppose. "Competition for last-mile broadband connections is crucial to protecting anopen internet". "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 said in its comment. That's the current net neutrality approach that Pai - with the backing of companies like AT&T and Comcast - hopes to scrap.

Under current rules, internet providers can not arbitrarily block websites, reduce service speed or charge more for access to internet "fast lanes". But even with the fate of the open internet at stake, Pai's proposal might sail through without a huge public fight.