WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – As Internet citizens grapple with the ramifications of the FCC’s net neutrality decision, Internet entrepreneurs are weighing in, demanding that the free and open exchange of ideas continue unhindered by big telecommunications companies.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian tells CBS DC that the Internet, while still one of our younger technologies, also represents some of America’s oldest values.
He says what has made the World Wide Web a global success is its foundation in deeply-held American principles of fair play and hard work to get ahead.
“The Internet is the freest market we have because of net neutrality,” he says. “Any one of us can get access to amazing world class resources and that is also under threat. If we lose net neutrality we would be handing over a democratic free market to the same people who make us pay more for our cable packages.”
But now that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has endorsed a plan allowing the telecom companies to set different rates for different levels of Internet service, Wheeler says the “pay to play” rule can work if it is heavily regulated.
Broadband Internet providers like Time Warner and Verizon argue that charging more for a “fast lane” is incentive to expand and build up the networks.
But Ohanian points out that the same companies have not lived up to promises of improved service in the past without public outcry.
He adds the FCC should reclassify broadband as a common carrier and be regulated like a utility.
“We all assume we should have a reasonable shot at getting electricity we shouldn’t be charged differently depending on what appliances we have in our house,” he says.
The FCC, which for years heard only from a handful of phone companies about its policymaking, has been flooded with more than 100,000 emails and calls to commissioners’ offices from consumers voicing concern about protecting the principle that all content should be treated equally online, reports the Washington Post.
The proposal now goes through about six months of public comment. Ohanian urges every American to get involved.
“What is going to become very clear over the coming months is just how many of us American citizens are going to make it crystal clear that their actions will not be tolerated,” he says.
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