Today, SIIA came out in support of the Administration’s approach to “Network Neutrality” when it filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in favor of its proposed rule codifying 6 principles to “preserve the open Internet.” In short, the goal is to preserve the level of open access over the Internet which has been critical the network’s success as an engine for creativity, innovation, and economic growth.
SIIA agrees with the FCC that without the guarantee of an open Internet that assures a level and transparent playing field for software and digital content providers, innovation and the development of new technologies and infrastructure will be significantly stifled. Of course, this would not only be detrimental to the future of these industries, but also to consumers and business enterprise users, and the U.S. economy more broadly.
In its comments, SIIA identified two distinct risks that continued openness and transparency of the Internet faces from broadband network operators who have the technologies that allow them to distinguish different classes of traffic, to offer different qualities of services, and to charge different prices for each class.
First, there is the distinct risk that Internet access service providers may charge inefficiently high prices to content, application and other service providers that makes investing in innovative Internet content, application, and services risky. Second, there is the real risk that, where service providers have market power, particularly relative to other services they offer, there is the incentive and ability to reduce or failure to increase transmission capacity or degrade service. Where broadband Internet access service providers have market power and are vertically integrated or affiliated with content, application or service providers, it acts as a gatekeeper.
The proposed FCC rule provides an appropriate and carefully developed means to limit discriminatory actions by service providers that favor or disfavor content, applications or other services reaching end users, whether they be enterprises of consumers. Importantly, the rule also provides sufficient flexibility for broadband providers to take reasonable measures to manage their networks or to address quality-of-service needs, and to provide a safe and secure Internet experience for their users, including blocking of spam, malware and the malicious traffic originating from malware.
As proposed by the FCC, the rules would not protect unlawful content, and not prevent reasonable broadband service provider practices to prevent the unlawful transfer of content, including actions to stop the unlawful distribution of copyrighted works—such unlawful distribution clearly has adverse consequence on the copyright industries, the economy and the overall broadband ecosystem. SIIA strongly concurs with the FCC’s approach on this point.