Amazon, Ebay, Google, Netflix, Reddit, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, Uber – plus 32 other internet companies – are publicly reminding everyone they don't want current net neutrality rules to be deleted.
Those big-name businesses are part of the Internet Association, a trade group that pushes for a free and open internet.
This week the Internet Association published a court filing that outlines how they feel about net neutrality. Long story short, they really like it and don't want the FCC to eliminate the rules protecting it – something that very well could happen, considering the chair of the FCC has criticized those rules.
Do we have 'net neutrality' right now?
Net neutrality is one of those terms that you've probably heard a lot. It's essentially a philosophy or guiding principle about what the internet should and shouldn't be.
Groups in favor of net neutrality believe everything on the internet (that is legal) should be accessible to everyone. And the people who provide internet to homes and businesses (like Comcast, or US Internet, or CenturyLink, or Paul Bunyan, etc.) should have to treat all of that content equally.
Right now, the United States has rules that prop up net neutrality.
The FCC (which is the agency in charge of watching over communications like radio, TV, and cable) in 2015 adopted what it calls Open Internet rules. The rules say an internet service provider
- can not block access to legal content or applications;
- can not make certain websites load slower than others (called "throttling");
- can not let companies pay to have their content load faster (no "fast lanes");
- and can not give favor to their own products, or products owned by affiliates.
These Open Internet rules were challenged in court, but a ruling last summer upheld them. So they're still in effect.
The new FCC chair isn't a fan
Which bring us to 2017 and the current head of the FCC Ajit Pai, who served with the agency under Barack Obama was was elevated to chairman by President Donald Trump.
Paj has been critical of the Open Internet rules.
Earlier this month, he said the FCC didn't do enough of an empirical, data-based study about the economic impact before implementing them, Fortune reported.
He's argued the rules (specifically regarding reclassification) have slowed investments in the broadband industry, and could get in the way of a widespread adoption of 5G service, WIRED said.
And he might be taking steps to start rolling back the rules. Reuters reported on April 6 that he met with the heads of big telecommunications companies to talk about his plan for nixing them. Reuters pointed out he's publicly said he is committed to an open internet, but thinks the current net neutrality rules were a mistake. (Locally, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has been a vocal support of net neutrality, and in February urged Paj to support it.)
Now the companies behind the Internet Association are ramping up their pitch. In the court filing, the group said it met with Paj and other FCC leaders this week. The group says it still has "vigorous support" for the Open Internet rules, and argues they're a "vital" piece of a free and open internet experience for people.