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Twitter, Vimeo, Reddit & More Appeal to Save Net Neutrality on Cyber Monday

Twitter, 2017
Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

     

"An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers."

On Monday (Nov. 27), while consumers across the country sought out Cyber Monday sales, dozens of tech companies including Twitter, Airbnb and Vimeo petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to keep Obama-era net neutrality rules. 

In a letter addressed to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, the businesses cited the nearly $3.5 billion in online sales last year that made Cyber Monday 2016 the largest online sales day in history (this year's shopping event is expected to top that), drawing a correlation between that success and an open internet.  

"Cyber Monday 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," read the letter. "The internet is increasingly where commerce happens."

The letter's signatories also included Sonos, Reddit, Etsy, Pinterest, Square and Tumblr, among others. It continued, "This economic growth is possible because of the free and open internet. Our current net neutrality rules support innovation and give all businesses the opportunity to compete equally for consumers. With strong net neutrality protections, the internet is an open marketplace where any business can compete, allowing individuals to start companies easily, market their products across the country, and connect with customers anywhere worldwide.

"Because of the open internet, a web developer can launch a business out of their own apartment, an aspiring fashion designer in Wyoming can sell clothes in Los Angeles, or a caterer can find new customers in their town. Because of net neutrality, consumers and businesses have unfettered access to one another, increasing competition and consumer choice."

Pai announced earlier this month the FCC would vote Dec. 14 on overturning the current net neutrality rules implemented during the Obama administration that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. It would also hand over regulatory oversight of service providers from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). With Republicans holding three out of the FCC's five seats, an overturn is expected to pass. 

Critics say this decision would free corporations like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to block or throttle certain content or require websites to buy into internet "fast lanes" favoring their businesses over others. Meanwhile, those service providers and Republicans argue that the current rules prevent investment in broadband and say critics' fears are overstated.  

"Without these rules, internet service providers will be able to favor certain websites and e-businesses, or the platforms they use to garner new customers, over others by putting the ones that can pay in fast lanes and slowing down or even blocking others," the letter continued. "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. An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers."

Read the letter in full here.