"An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail," the CEOs said Monday in a letter to Genachowski. Signatories include Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Google's Eric Schmidt, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Craigslist's Craig Newmark.
This latest onslaught comes after a host of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle weighed in against neutrality rules. Last week, 18 Republican Senators, and 72 Democratic House members argued to the FCC that new rules could discourage broadband investment.
The Web execs who wrote to Genachowski today emphasized that Internet service providers have historically followed neutrality rules. "For most of the Internet's history, FCC rules have ensured that consumers have been able to choose the content and services they want over their Internet connections," they said. "Entrepreneurs, technologists, and venture capitalists have previously been able to develop new online products and services with the guarantee of neutral, nondiscriminatory access by users, which has fueled an unprecedented era of economic growth and creativity."
While opponents attempt to characterize neutrality rules as some sort of shift in policy, the fact is that until 2005 Internet service providers had to follow neutrality rules -- though the word "neutrality" wasn't itself widely used.
In June of 2005, a Supreme Court ruling paved the way for ISPs to stop adhering to the common carrier principles that they had long followed. But two months later FCC then put out a policy statement endorsing net neutrality principles. Last year the agency enforced that statement by sanctioning Comcast for blocking peer-to-peer traffic, but it's not clear that the decision to sanction Comcast will hold up in court.
Meantime, the meteoric growth of online video consumption makes the case for neutrality rules more compelling than it was even a few years ago. Cable companies can't be happy that consumers can watch full episodes of TV shows or stream movies without buying pricey video subscriptions. Given ISPs' obvious financial incentives, a lack of clear neutrality regulations seems to put all online video sites at risk of being throttled.