Top Tech CEOs and Pioneers: Net Neutrality Essential for Innovation

A coalition of top tech company CEOs and innovators called Net Neutrality vital to the United States’ "economic growth, innovation and global competitiveness" in a letter urging FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to defend the open Internet.

The CEOs and innovators joined a group of Internet pioneers, who on Friday called upon Genachowski to stand up for Net Neutrality against a "strong and vocal resistance" from phone and cable companies.

"An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail. This allows businesses of all sizes, from the smallest start-up to larger corporations, to compete, yielding maximum economic growth and opportunity, " the 24 CEOs and Internet company founders wrote in a letter delivered Monday to the FCC.

The CEO letter is signed by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Twitter’s Evan Williams, Digg founder Kevin Rose and Barry Diller of IAC/InteractiveCorp, among others.

The first letter – signed by five of the Internet’s founding engineers – stated that openness has been essential to the Internet’s success since its inception. "As individuals who have worked on the Internet and its predecessors continuously beginning in the late 1960s, we are very concerned that access to the Internet be both open and robust," wrote the five, who signed as "Internet Pioneers."

The pioneers include Vint Cerf, widely regarded as the "father of the Internet" for his work developing the DARPA system that would evolve into the modern network; David Reed, who was instrumental in developing the TCP/IP protocols at the root of data transmission; and Steven Crocker, who helped create the ARPANET protocols that were the foundation for today's Internet.

FCC Chairman Genachowski’s proposed rulemaking would give the agency the teeth to enforce Net Neutrality. It has been met by powerful phone and cable companies rolling out a misinformation campaign designed to stop policymakers from protecting the one principle that has turned the Internet into an unprecedented engine of free speech, economic growth and innovation.

A vote to start the FCC rulemaking process is scheduled for Oct. 22.

"We believe that the vast numbers of innovative Internet applications over the last decade are a direct consequence of an open and freely accessible Internet," the group of founders added. "Many now-successful companies have deployed their services on the Internet without the need to negotiate special arrangements with Internet Service Providers, and it's crucial that future innovators have the same opportunity."

This support for an open Internet was echoed by the CEOs and tech innovators who sent Monday’s letter: "America’s leadership in the technology space has been due, in large part, to the open Internet. We applaud your leadership in initiating a process to develop rules to ensure that the qualities that have made the Internet so successful are protected."

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