Apple actually has something to say on net neutrality

Usually Apple is that moody kid in the corner. The one who ponders life, remains stoical and probably harbours ambitions of being a cult-leader when he grows up. Like Jeremy in that Pearl Jam song.

Jamie Davies

September 1, 2017

4 Min Read
Apple actually has something to say on net neutrality

Usually Apple is that moody kid in the corner. The one who ponders life, remains stoical and probably harbours ambitions of being a cult-leader when he grows up. Like Jeremy in that Pearl Jam song.

But not anymore. That’s right, Apple has actually come out and said something. iFollowers around the world will be falling to their knees, arms waving in the air and crying in glorious admiration; the iLeader has spoken. The unfortunate victim of the iChief’s preaching is the FCC, as well as those who have set out to dismantle net neutrality laws put into place by the fallen Tom Wheeler.

It could be viewed as one of the worst possible scenarios for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Some might under the assumption most iCultists around the world would follow their iPhone off the edge of a cliff, should the iNavigation take them that direction, but a statement of support from the iBoss could stimulate the iMasses into iAction in support of the rules.

In a letter written to the FCC (thank you Recode), Apple’s VP of Public Policy, Cynthia Hogan, has put forward the iOpinion, and it is firmly sat in the support camp.

“These key principles are reflected in the FCC’s current rules and should form the foundation of any net neutrality framework going forward,” the letter reads. “Apple remains open to alternative sources of legal authority, but only if they provide for strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable protections, like those in place today. Simply put, the internet is too important to consumers and too essential to innovation to be left unprotected and uncertain.”

The principles Hogan is describing are that of consumer choice, no paid fast lanes, transparency, competition and investment & innovation. In Apple’s opinion, these principles of the internet, which have led to the rise of some of the most powerful organizations on the planet, can only be maintained by the net neutrality foundations, or at least something very similar.

The argument is simple. Net neutrality keeps a level playing field, it doesn’t nudge users towards particular services, or punish those who resist bullying from cash-hungry infrastructure owners. It allows users to make informed choices, encourages competition, challengers and disruptors, as well as investment in start-ups, which some argue would receive the sharp end of the stick should net neutrality rules come tumbling down.

While this will certainly put a smile on the faces of those who are sitting firmly in the pro net neutrality camp, Apple has managed to avoid one of the most controversial topics associated with net neutrality; should the telcos be relegated to the role of utility. So you shouldn’t get too excited about Apple opening up, as it is tackling one of the simpler debates, as opposed to getting down and dirty.

Pai might be sighing in disbelief that he has been able to motivate the normally silent iLeader into raising its voice, the masses might not need stimulating when it comes to this debate. Following a public consultation, the ‘Restoring Internet Freedom’ docket attracted 21,879,873 comments from the general public.

The gloriously named ‘Restoring Internet Freedom’ docket is essentially the FCC’s plans to roll back net neutrality and reduce the regulatory influence over the telco space. And it seems Americans are surprisingly vocal about the idea. Of course, there have been reports about spam bots posting identical messages, but this doesn’t seem to favour one particular side. Many of these posts will be real, and scrolling through some of the most recent ones, the majority to seem in support of the status quo. In other words, net neutrality is wanted.

The rally call for net neutrality is becoming stronger. From Silicon Valley, Apple is joining Google, Amazon, Netflix, and a host of other giants in support, as well as numerous think tanks, left-orientated politicians and journalists. The tsunami of support is swelling, but question remains as to whether it will ultimately matter.

Pai and his cronies have had their eyes firmly set on dismantling the net neutrality foundations of the Open Internet since President Trump’s rise to power. There seems to be a sense of going through the motions when it comes to the formalities of taking down the rules. Whether it is inviting in the tech giants for contribution, or engaging the public for their opinions, we get the impression it won’t actually matter.

We would love to be proved wrong here, but it wouldn’t be the first time politicians do something because they want to, despite it seemingly being contrary to popular opinion. Net neutrality looks to be skating on thin ice, but let’s see how big the iSpanner is.


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