Pearl Jams Vedder, Pink Floyds Waters Among Rockers Pressuring FCC on Net Neutrality

Celebrities have jumped on the Net neutrality bandwagon.

In a May 13 letter, a number of renowned musicians, Hollywood representatives and other luminaries urged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to abandon plans that would authorize broadband providers to charge content providers a premium for faster access to their high-speed pipes.

The FCC’s proposal “would kill – rather than protect – Net Neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online,” declared the letter, whose signatories featured among others the film director Oliver Stone, actor Mark Ruffalo and a number of rockers including Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes and Michael Stipe of R.E.M.

“Under these rules, telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications,” the letter further stated.

The FCC on Thursday is set to vote on Net neutrality rules that have already caused a ruckus from Washington, D.C., to the West Coast. According to a news release from the organization Free Press, hundreds of organizers will rally Thursday outside FCC headquarters to oppose Wheeler’s proposal. 

“Your proposed path would open the door to widespread discrimination online,” the celebrities stated in the letter to Wheeler. “It would give Internet service providers the green light to implement pay-for-priority schemes that would be disastrous for startups, nonprofits and everyday Internet users who cannot afford these unnecessary tolls. We urge you to scrap these proposed rules and instead restore the principle of online nondiscrimination by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service.”

Following pushback from his Democratic colleagues and a deluge of public concerns, Wheeler is revising proposed Net neutrality regulations, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

A previous proposal raised widespread concerns that the FCC would authorize broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast to charge content providers like Netflix a premium for faster access to the Internet, ostensibly creating fast and slow lanes on the Web.

An FCC official told the Journal the new draft would seek comment on whether paid priority deals should be banned and look to prohibit big broadband providers from forging agreements with content companies on terms that aren’t offered to others. Wheeler also will make explicit that the agency will scrutinize agreements to ensure broadband providers don’t unfairly place nonpaying companies’ content at a disadvantage, the Journal said.

In late 2010, under former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the commission issued an order prohibiting fixed broadband providers from blocking lawful content, applications and services and unreasonably discriminating on their networks. Those regulations were overturned following a successful challenge by Verizon Communications.



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