Mozilla, Reddit, Vimeo, DuckDuckGo, Kickstarter, and tens of other companies sent an open letter to the FCC, urging it to adopt some clear and transparent rules against zero-rating, as the telecommunications companies continue to push the limits of net neutrality rules passed last year.
Over four million individuals sent comments to the FCC last year, with the vast majority supporting the passing of strong net neutrality rules. The new rules were needed to ensure that the internet remains fair for everyone so that the big telecommunications companies don’t try to become gatekeepers and start charging consumers and companies for access to each other.
The net neutrality rules passed with almost everything the advocates wanted, although barely. If passing the rules was difficult enough, keeping them alive and actually enforcing them was always going to be much more difficult.
Soon after the rules passed, AT&T launched a lawsuit against the FCC, trying to overturn all or at least some of the new rules. However, even if the FCC wins that ongoing lawsuit, there seems to be a severe lack of enforcement for those rules right now, whether it’s because the FCC is unwilling to enforce those strong rules or because it’s simply waiting to see what the Courts decide first. Meanwhile, the big telecommunications companies are moving ahead with their zero-rating services, which Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, called "positive discrimination."
When the FCC passed the net neutrality rules, the agency refused to take a stand on the zero-rating issue because it thought the issue was still too controversial at the time. The FCC also decided to deal with this issue on a case-by-case basis.
The group of companies that signed today’s letter want the FCC to either ban zero-rating or at least make it clear what is allowed and what isn’t so that everyone abides by the same rules. The companies also called on the FCC to open a public process to inform people of its zero-rating plans so that they can comment on them, much like they did last year on the net neutrality proposals.
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu.