Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak told reporters Tuesday that new rules passed by the FCC on net neutrality were a good first step, but that they don’t far enough. On hand for the vote, The Woz was concerned that wireless carriers would still be able to interfere with Internet traffic on their networks. He also published an open letter urging Net Neutrality regulations be enshrined into law.
Net Neutrality is the notion that carriers (and governments, but the focus of late has been on broadband and wireless carriers) should not be allowed to place any restrictions on Internet traffic. The concern has long been that such providers would use their so-called “last mile” of infrastructure to choke off and block competition, often in the name of managing overall capacity.
For instance, a cable company blocking or slowing Netflix, Hulu, or iTunes streaming traffic in an effort to protect their own delivery of cable TV and video-on-demand services would violate the idea of Net Neutrality. Similarly, capping or choking Bittorrent traffic also violates the idea of Net Neutrality.
The U.S. government, notably the FCC, has been considering whether or not to install regulations codifying Net Neutrality for many years, and on Tuesday the FCC did just that. The vote was 3 to 2, split down party lines (the three Democrats voted for Net Neutrality, while the two Republicans on the panel voted against it). Indeed, Republicans in Congress are hoping to be able to block the regulations before they go into effect.
The Woz told Bloomberg that he was there because he believes the notion of Net Neutrality is an important one. “I just decided to come here because I was emotionally attached,” he said just after the vote. “This is a very significant, important issue — Internet freedom —and I don’t think they went far enough.”
In his open letter, Mr. Wozniak made an impassioned plea that Net Neutrality was necessary to protect innovation, and to allow small companies to compete in a world of corporate behemoths.