The leading pioneers of the internet have called on Congress to pressure the FCC to cancel its December 14 vote on the FCC’s proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order repealing net neutrality and then some. The pioneers rebuke FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with a blunt statement – “You Don’t Understand How the Internet Works“.
The Pioneers argued that
the FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained.
. . . The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed Order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.
Signatories include Vint Cerf, the “father or the internet”, Tim Berners-Lee, the “father” of the world-wide web; Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers and six additional Internet Hall of Fame members (whose bios I have summarized below). The text of the letter is below.
- Mitchell Baker
As an instrumental player in the development of the Mozilla project and as founding chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation, Baker helped legitimize Open Source Internet applications.
- Steve Crocker
Dr. Crocker has been involved in the Internet since its inception. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, while he was a graduate student at UCLA, he was part of the team that developed the protocols for the ARPANET and laid the foundation for today’s Internet. He organized the Network Working Group, which was the forerunner of the modern Internet Engineering Task Force and initiated the Request for Comment (RFC) series of notes through which protocol designs are documented and shared. He currently serves as the chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Prof. Farber played a key role in many systems that converged into today’s Internet. Farber helped conceive and organize the National Science Foundation’s Computer Science Network (CSNet), which made then-experimental networking technology available to academic computer scientists and was instrumental in spreading the technology globally, to both industry and academia. Farber also helped plan and develop NSFNET and National Research & Education Network (NREN), efforts that led to the development of the current commercial Internet.
- Brewster Kahle
A “digital librarian” with a mission to provide “universal access to all knowledge,” Brewster Kahle is founder and director of the Internet Archive, a free digital library that archives World Wide Web documents and makes them universally accessible.
- Paul Vixie
Dr. Vixie designed, implemented and deployed several Domain Name System (DNS) protocol extensions and applications that are used throughout the Internet today, including dynamic update, network reputation and BIND open-source software.
- Stephen Wolff
As Division Director for Networking at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Stephen Wolff was responsible for the development of the NSFNET – the first open computer network in the U.S. for the support of research and higher education. This network connected supercomputing centers, regional research and education networks, federal agency networks, and international research and education networks, and eventually, it became a major part of the Internet backbone.
Internet Pioneers and Leaders Tell the FCC: You Don’t Understand How the Internet Works
Internet creators and leading figures ask the FCC to cancel its vote repealing Net Neutrality protections
The Honorable Roger Wicker,
Chair Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
The Honorable Brian Schatz,
Ranking Member Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
The Honorable Marsha Blackburn,
ChairHouse Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
The Honorable Michael F. Doyle,
Ranking MemberHouse Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. We are writing to respectfully urge you to call on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to cancel the December 14 vote on the FCC’s proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order (WC Docket No. 17-108 ).
This proposed Order would repeal key network neutrality protections that prevent Internet access providers from blocking content, websites and applications, slowing or speeding up services or classes of service, and charging online services for access or fast lanes to Internet access providers’ customers. The proposed Order would also repeal oversight over other unreasonable discrimination and unreasonable practices, and over interconnection with last-mile Internet access providers. The proposed Order removes long-standing FCC oversight over Internet access providers without an adequate replacement to protect consumers, free markets and online innovation.
It is important to understand that the FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order dismantles 15 years of targeted oversight from both Republican and Democratic FCC chairs, who understood the threats that Internet access providers could pose to open markets on the Internet.
The experts’ comment was not the only one the FCC ignored. Over 23 million comments have been submitted by a public that is clearly passionate about protecting the Internet. The FCC could not possibly have considered these adequately.
Indeed, breaking with established practice, the FCC has not held a single open public meeting to hear from citizens and experts about the proposed Order.
Furthermore, the FCC’s online comment system has been plagued by major problems that the FCC has not had time to investigate. These include bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC’s on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.
Compounding our concern, the FCC has failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about these incidents and failed to provide information to a New York State Attorney General’s investigation of them.
We therefore call on you to urge FCC Chairman Pai to cancel the FCC’s vote. The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed Order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.
Frederick J. Baker, IETF Chair 1996-2001, ISOC Board Chair 2002-2006
Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation
Steven M. Bellovin, Internet pioneer, FTC Chief Technologist, 2012-2013
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web & professor, MIT
John Borthwick, CEO, Betaworks
Scott O. Bradner, Internet pioneer
Vinton G. Cerf, Internet pioneer
Stephen D. Crocker, Internet pioneer
Whitfield Diffie, inventor of public-key cryptography
David J. Farber, Internet pioneer, FCC Chief Technologist 1999-2000
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO Tetherless Access
Martin E. Hellman, Internet security pioneer
Brewster Kahle, Internet pioneer, founder, Internet Archive
Susan Landau, cybersecurity expert & professor, Tufts University
Theodor Holm Nelson, hypertext pioneer
David P. Reed, Internet pioneer
Jennifer Rexford, Chair of Computer Science, Princeton University
Ronald L. Rivest, co-inventor of RSA public-key encryption algorithm
Paul Vixie, Internet pioneer
Stephen Wolff, Internet pioneer
Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer
Members of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
Members of the House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Federal Communications Commissioners
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