Reddit Co-founder Joins Net Neutrality Debate

Alexis Ohanian, the American Internet entrepreneur most famous for co-founding Reddit, has launched a crowdfund campaign to fight the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed “fast lanes” – superior channels that companies can purchase from ISPs to guarantee that their content travels quickly across the Internet. In a short video, Ohanian appears in front of a webcam and advocates against the fast-lane threat to Net Neutrality.

Ohanian refers to an FCC meeting on May 15th, when the commission began the formal process of considering the proposed rules – a process that includes releasing the rules public comment. The entrepreneur requests $20,000 (by May 15th) to purchase a billboard in Washington, D.C. (near the offices of the FCC) that reads “Keep the Internet free & open for all.”

As an aside, Ohanian is open to suggestions for a catchier slogan.

Ohanian’s argument maintains that the Internet is a utility – like water or electricity – and should be treated as such. In his video, the entrepreneur compares Internet infrastructure to “dumb pipes” that simply transmit ones and zeros, and he does not want large online companies to enjoy an incumbent advantage over startups and entrepreneurs.

At a recent telecommunications convention in Los Angeles, Tom Wheeler strongly asserted that fast lanes would not discriminate against startups; “We will not allow some companies to force Internet users into a slow lane so that others with special privileges can have superior service,” reports the LA Times. "Let me be clear. If someone acts to divide the Internet between 'haves' and 'have-nots,' we will use every power at our disposal to stop it." With the new rules, the FCC would determine on a case-by-case basis whether or not payments to ISPs are “commercially reasonable” to prevent discrimination.

Even so, Sam Gustin with Time Magazine describes Wheeler’s opposition as “a tsunami of criticism.Why you’ll hate the Internet ‘fast lane’ recently garnered hundreds of comments on CNN.com, and Schumpeter, a blog written for the Economist, opines, “Regardless of what the FCC claims, it is hard to view its proposal as “net neutrality”.” Search Google News for Tom Wheeler – the negativity surrounding recent headlines is overwhelming.

If the Internet community indicates anything about public opinion, Mr. Wheeler has his work cut out for him.

 

Shannon Perry

Shannon Perry is an award winning writer and analyst with a background in statistics & science, technology and international affairs.
About Shannon Perry

Shannon Perry is an award winning writer and analyst with a background in statistics & science, technology and international affairs.

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