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Joining progressive open Internet advocates, more than 200 companies made an argument in favor of net neutrality on Cyber Monday, highlighting how the Trump administration’s planned rollback of the Obama-era net neutrality rule would harm both businesses and customers.
The annual online-shopping event is “a testament to the power of the free and open internet to encourage entrepreneurship, drive innovation, make our lives easier, and to support a healthy economy,” wrote companies including Airbnb, Twitter, Pinterest, and Etsy, which all spread information about Cyber Monday deals or benefit from the event’s sales.
With the letter, the companies joined the voices of independent media companies, social movements that have been able to organize online, and other open Internet advocates in calling for a continuation of rules that allow all websites to be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs).
Net neutrality has come under attack by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) head Ajit Pai, who announced earlier this month that the agency would hold a vote on December 14 regarding a potential repeal of the rules that protect websites from discriminatory treatment by large ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.
Without net neutrality, these telecom corporations would be able to give faster service to proprietary or wealthy websites that can afford it while while disadvantaging or blocking others by forcing them into a “slow lane.”
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The rollback of the regulations, wrote the companies, would mean that “businesses may have to pay a toll just to reach customers. This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground.”
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As Steve Salzberg wrote in Forbes on Sunday, “If net neutrality goes away, no longer will anyone be able to set up a website and turn it into a thriving business by offering popular content. They’ll first need to raise money to pay the ISPs, or else face being relegated to the slow lane.”
Pai, who was once an attorney for Verizon, is likely to have the votes on the commission needed for the rollback that would benefit his former employer, but pro-net neutrality advocates have called on supporters to reach out to the two other Republicans on the five-member panel, urging them to vote against Pai’s proposal.
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