Twitter backs the FCC’s push to pass new net neutrality regulations it underlined today, publishing a blog post calling for the passage of open Internet rules that will prevent throttling, paid prioritization. The company also advocated for the regulation of wireless connections under net neutrality rules.
The FCC will vote on its open Internet proposal later this week.
Given the long cycle of the net neutrality debate, Twitter is hardly the first company or voice to make its opinion known on the matter. But the company’s statement bolstering the FCC’s position, coming as it does just days ahead of the vote itself, carries new weight.
Twitter, however, stops short of supporting the specific legal foundation (Title II) selected by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan. Here’s the key section (Bolding: TechCrunch):
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed securing the legal foundation for these rules in Title II of the Communications Act (along with other statutory authority). We strongly support ensuring that such rules include prohibitions against blocking or throttling of sites and services as well as the paid prioritization of some traffic over others. […]
In moving forward, the FCC is also wisely avoiding unnecessary and overly burdensome regulation. The Commission is embracing the same kind of “light touch” regulatory approach that the Congress and the Commission has pursued with respect to wireless services since the 1990s. […]
Reading that carefully, Twitter notes Wheeler’s proposed use of Title II of the Communications Act to ground net neutrality rules, and then endorses the proposed impact of the rules, and not their legal foundation. The second section does note that, by forbearing large chunks of Title II, the FCC is creating a more nimble piece of law, but it still doesn’t quite say, “This is what we wanted.” That reticence, of course, is likely due to the fact that the public has yet to actually read the Wheeler plan in anything other than bullet-point format.
Parsing aside, Twitter did the FCC a solid today by writing its post — each time an innovative Internet company comes out publicly in favor of net neutrality, it undercuts the argument promulgated by opponents of the regulatory concept that business will be stifled by the introduction of open Internet rules.
Not all share Twitter’s view, of course. Though the divide between opponent and proponent of net neutrality tends to break down along the lines of ISP-Carrier v. Not, there are some other notable voices. Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen had a succinct take on the matter two weeks ago:
But even more recently, Internet Serious Person Mark Cuban unloaded on net neutrality, saying that the rules that Chairman Wheeler has decided on “will fuck everything up,” and that net neutrality is “just a demonization of big companies.” So, there are various views on the matter.
There are at least two hearings planned in the House of Representatives this week ahead of the vote. I would not be surprised if both Twitter and Cuban came up.