Barbara van Schewick: Start-Up Video Company Asks FCC to Improve Open Internet Proposal

by on Dec.20, 2010, under Uncategorized

(Original article at

By Barbara van Schewick

[This is the first of two posts about the FCC’s proposal for Open Internet rules. The second post is available here.]

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Why do innovators and users need protection? If a network provider blocks or discriminates against an application I want to use, I cannot use the Internet in the way that is most valuable to me. If a network provider restricts access to content I am interested in, my ability to educate myself, contribute to discussions of the subject and make informed decisions will be limited. Ideally, open Internet rules would ban this type of discriminatory behavior and provide an easy mechanism for users to ask the FCC to stop it. In the absence of good rules, users just have to live with it.

If an application is blocked, it cannot reach its users and the application developer cannot reap its benefits. In the absence of meaningful protections, there is nothing the application developer can do about this. And concerned about the threat of discrimination, innovators (or potential investors) may decide not to pursue innovative ideas. Thus, without meaningful network neutrality rules, we will get less application innovation. And since applications, services and content are what makes the Internet useful to us, an Internet without meaningful network neutrality rules will be less useful to us in the future.

I’m sure you have heard that a lack of meaningful network neutrality rules harms start ups and reduces application innovation before. But for many, it sounds like an abstract theoretical concern. Yesterday, a start up from Silicon Valley called Zediva filed a letter with the FCC that explains what the Chairman’s current proposal would mean for them.

The letter does a great job of showing how different proposals for network neutrality rules can provide very different protections for innovative start ups and where the current proposal needs to be improved, so I asked Zediva for permission to post it here.

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