May 7, 2014
TO: FCC Chair Tom Wheeler
FROM: Mark Gabrish Conlan
RE: Follow-up comment opposing the so-called “fast-lane Internet”
Dear Chair Wheeler:
I am appalled at the “do not reply” reply I just received to my e-mail, CIMS00003865491, opposing your plan to allow Internet service providers (ISP’s) to allow content providers and other Web sites to pay for premium high-speed access to the Internet. What appalls me is you statement that “I’m a strong supporter of the Open Internet, and I will fight to keep the Internet open.” If that were true, you would never have advanced such a proposal and would instead be using your powers as chair to fight any attempt to allow ISP’s to charge Web site proprietors for faster access.
My previous comment on these matters was sent as an automated e-mail from a Web site advocating REAL Net neutrality. This one I am writing myself.
Any plan to discriminate against Web sites on the basis of their ability to pay for fast access fundamentally violates the principle of Net neutrality. It not only can but WILL lead to a system in which giant corporations are able to push their messages to the front of the line and all other interests are either silenced altogether or relegated to such slow, difficult-to-access connections that no one will bother.
This is exactly what’s happened to all other U.S. media, as corporate consolidation has reduced the number of outlets in print, radio and television. What’s more, America’s experience with increased corporate consolidation, not only in media but all other businesses as well, has demonstrated conclusively that consolidation does NOT encourage innovation. Quite the contrary; it hampers it. Innovations come from small companies aggressively competing for a foothold in the marketplace, not from risk-averse corporate giants anxious to keep what they’ve got and freeze out potential threats. Does the name “General Motors” mean anything to you?
What’s more, allowing ISP’s to offer differential level of access to different Web sites raises the likelihood that ISP’s will become censors, deliberately restricting the content choices available to U.S. Internet consumers. The CEO’s of AT&T (Ed Whitacre) and Comcast (Bob Roberts) have already referred to their customers’ Internet connections as “my pipes” and publicly questioned why they should be required to allow messages to go through them of which they do not approve.
Net neutrality can ONLY be protected by an absolute, no-exceptions requirement that ISP’s must treat all Web sites equally — no differential access and none of the censorship both Whitacre and Roberts have called for. To this end, I ask you to do the following:
1) Immediately withdraw your proposal to allow ISP’s to charge content providers for fast-lane Internet access.
2) Commit to reclassifying ISP’s as common carriers, like telephone companies, to protect consumers against attempts by ISP’s to proclaim First Amendment rights to control the content users will be allowed to access.
3) Reject the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner.
Mark Gabrish Conlan