Over 200 internet companies sent a letter to FFC chairman Ajit Pai urging him to vote against rolling back net neutrality rules next month, reports Reuters. In the letter, CEOs warned rolling back net neutrality rules “would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground.” The letter was signed by the CEOs of Airbnb, Etsy, Foursquare, GitHub, Pinterest, Reddit, Shutterstock, Sonos, Square, and Tumblr, among many others. You can read the full letter below.
Dear Chairman Pai,
This holiday season, millions of Americans will shop online, searching for the best deals, finding the perfect gifts for their loved ones, and supporting businesses large and small across the United States. 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.
Last year, Americans spent almost $3.5 billion online on Cyber Monday, making it the largest online sales day in history. Each year this number increases, with last year’s sales growing more than 10 percent over 2015. Even Black Friday is becoming an online shopping day with more than $3 billion in online sales. E-commerce continues to grow and nearly $400 billion in retail sales were online last year. The internet is increasingly where commerce happens.
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.
Disastrously, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week released a draft order that would end this open commerce by repealing the current net neutrality rules and eliminating the protections that keep the internet free and open for America’s businesses and consumers.
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. 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.
Today, on the busiest online shopping day of the year, we, the undersigned businesses and trade associations, urge the FCC to maintain the current net neutrality rules and Title II classification of broadband internet. The current rules provide the protections necessary to protect net neutrality and ensure the internet remains a free and open marketplace that encourages innovation and supports robust competition.
The FCC should vote against this order that rolls back the net neutrality rules just as Americans across the country spend billions online this holiday season.