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Net Neutrality

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No, 'App Neutrality' Is Not A Thing. Last month, BlackBerry CEO John Chen tried to kiss up to major wireless carriers on the issue of net neutrality with a truly bizarre missive that received ample mockery in the technology press. Basically, Chen tried to argue that we don't need tough neutrality rules -- but we really should consider rules that force app developers to make content for unpopular mobile platforms. Like oh, BlackBerry, which after endless missteps now controls just 2% of the smartphone market. This was, to hear Chen tell it, because when companies refuse to make apps for unpopular platforms they're violating something Chen called "app neutrality": "Netflix, which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them.

Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. Of course, as we pointed out at the time, Netflix isn't discriminating against anybody. Tech giants blast FCC's net neutrality proposal. In an open letter to the Federal Communications Commission, major Internet and technology companies are united in their fight to keep the Internet free and open. Companies that include Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix among others, are standing together to fight the FCC's plans to split the Internet into faster and slower speed lanes as part of a new upcoming vote. "According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against internet companies and to impose new tolls on them," the letter reads.

"If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet. " These technology companies are asking that the Commission should establish rules that protect users on mobile and fixed platforms against "blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for internet services more transparent. " 'Net neutrality' ruling could be costly for consumers, advocates say. A federal appeals court swept aside government regulations designed to ensure equal access to the Internet, raising the prospects of higher fees for consumers and more barriers for start-ups seeking to compete online. The decision Tuesday could allow AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and other Internet service providers to charge the likes of Netflix and YouTube more money to deliver movies and video to their customers.

The ruling also throws into disarray the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to limit telecom and cable firms from discriminating against certain Internet traffic by slowing speeds, impeding access or raising fees. The issue, known by the wonky term "net neutrality," involves complex technical and policy rules. But at its core, the concept comes down to a classic debate about how far government could and should go to ensure a level digital playing field. Or they could block access to certain apps or Web services that compete with their own.

Can Europe really offer startups a better deal on net neutrality? As net neutrality goes down in flames stateside… Watching US #netneutrality news. Maybe I shd invite newly disadvantaged US startups to EU, so they have a fair chance…— Neelie Kroes (@NeelieKroesEU) January 15, 2014 Kroes, the European Commissioner in charge of the digital economy, has a point.

The potential end of net neutrality rules is going to be really bad for U.S. consumers and startups alike (as my colleague Stacey Higginbotham has noted, the likes of Google and Netflix are actually winners in this scenario, as they have deep pockets). However, some may dispute Kroes’s characterization of Europe as a safe haven. The Commission recently adopted proposals (that need to be ratified this year) that many see as falling short of promising true net neutrality.

Specifically: But that’s about consumption. If Europe really does get net neutrality, that will be the right time to start crowing. Court FCC Ruling Will Let Big Monopolies Take Over the Internet. Countries like China or Russia, with centuries-long traditions of authoritarian rule, revert to their past practices when confronted with any kind of novelty. The United States, with its tradition of frontier free marketism, reverts to the laissez-faire when confronted with the new. But the result in both cases the same: the radical constriction of popular democracy and freedom. A case in point is yesterday’s Appeals Court ruling on net neutrality. The question is this: Can internet providers like Verizon and Comcast allow some web companies to provide better (that is, faster) service to their customers than their competitors by paying a higher price to the providers? Can Amazon knock an upstart by providing better service to its customers by paying off Verizon?

Or can the Heritage Foundation’s web site provide better service than, say, that of the Economic Policy Institute by paying higher prices to Verizon? Powell was happy about the ruling. From The WebFrom The New Republic. Marc Andreessen talks about the pros and cons of net neutrality and the need for innovation. Ever since he returned to Twitter in January, after not posting anything on the network for almost three years, legendary entrepreneur-turned-venture-capitalist Marc Andreessen has been tweeting up a storm, discussing a range of tech and social issues with almost anyone. On Tuesday, a message from Om to Andreessen — and other venture investors such as Fred Wilson, John Doerr and Paul Graham — touched off a fascinating discussion about net neutrality, the need for continued innovation on the internet, and the best way to ensure that it happens (there’s also a Storify of this discussion available).

I urge @pmarca @fredwilson @johndoerr @paulg to stand up against this order that takes down Network Neutrality. Innovation ecosystem at risk— Om Malik (@om) January 14, 2014 @om In ideal universe I want both net neutrality + fast growing investment in existing&new networks. Not obvious to me how to square circle.— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) January 15, 2014.