Net Neutrality Repeal Means The Battle Is Just Beginning

Opinion

From businesses and consumers to politicians and tech industry leaders, the furor over last week’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality can be felt across America. People everywhere are stepping up to show their support for a free and open Internet. In my view, the battle to preserve net neutrality is still very much alive.

The FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, last Thursday voted 3-2 along party lines to repeal net neutrality protections. The plan gives large broadband companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T free rein to slow or block traffic to websites or cloud-based applications as they see fit. The decision clears the way for the telecom giants to create Internet “fast lanes” that will force growing businesses to pay extra fees simply to keep pace with the competition. It may also mean the end of Internet privacy because service providers will be allowed to monetize customers’ browsing histories.

At Carbonite, we believe in net neutrality because it fuels healthy competition, innovation, and job creation. We believe smaller businesses deserve a chance to grow and thrive without being smothered by countless Internet fees.

I’m urging you to sign this petition at BattleForTheNet.com. You can also contact your representatives in Congress and let them know you disagree with the plan to gut net neutrality. The FCC vote may have dealt a setback to net neutrality supporters, but the fight for a free and open Internet goes on.

Net neutrality is good for business

Net neutrality was enacted to ensure that all traffic on the Internet is treated equally. It creates a level playing field that gives entrepreneurs with fresh ideas a fair chance to find success and grow—even in the face of larger competitors with more financial resources. In other words, the plan to end net neutrality hurts small and mid-size businesses, and that makes it a direct threat to American jobs and American innovation.

Since the 1970s, small businesses have created two-thirds of all net new jobs in the U.S. economy, according to research from Deloitte. Mid-size companies have led national job growth over the past five years, employing nearly 53 million workers and contributing almost $10 trillion to the U.S. economy, according to 2016 data from the Middle Market Power Index, a report from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet. The FCC’s plan to end net neutrality will likely throw a wrench into that engine of innovation.

New businesses are already strapped for capital, which limits the technology investments they make. While the Internet is their great equalizer today, a future without net neutrality will make even starting a business online—let alone growing it—too cost-prohibitive. It’s a zero-sum game, and small and mid-size firms have the most to lose.

It’s not just new businesses that need to be concerned. At Carbonite, for example, even a one-second delay in our Internet performance could degrade our service and ultimately threaten jobs, not just those of Carbonite employees, but jobs at businesses around the world who depend on Carbonite to recover their IT systems after a disaster.

Tech leaders join forces in support of net neutrality

In the wake of last week’s vote, countless tech industry leaders—including Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, and many others—have stood up in support of a free and open Internet.

“I am extremely disappointed in the FCC decision to remove the #NetNeutrality protections,” tweeted Werner Vogels, chief technology officer and vice president of Amazon.com. “We’ll continue to work with our peers, partners and customers to find ways to ensure an open and fair Internet that can continue to drive massive innovation.”

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg agreed that the end of net neutrality is both “disappointing and harmful.”

“An open Internet is critical for new ideas and economic opportunity—and Internet providers shouldn’t be able to decide what people can see online or charge more for certain websites,” Sandberg wrote on Facebook. “We’re ready to work with members of Congress and others to help make the Internet free and open for everyone.”

The repeal of net neutrality is not set to take effect until next year. That means there is still time to step up and make a difference. The net neutrality battles we fight today are for small and mid-size businesses who—like blue-chip brands before them—deserve unfettered access to the Web. I encourage you to join me in urging FCC Chairman Pai to halt the steps he is taking. Take a stand in support of net neutrality today.

Mohamad Ali is President & CEO of Carbonite. Follow @Carbonite

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