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My comment on FCC's net neutrality proposal
Dear FCC,
I have a PhD in Computer Science from MIT and I've spent most of my professional life as a software engineer working on Web technology. I have lived the early years of my life in a Communist country, Romania, so I have some first-person experience with censorship and its impact on people.
Net neutrality is essential to healthy competition on the Web. This is not an ideological debate, it is a hard fact following from the many studies that showed minor increases in latency cause a website huge audience losses.
The existence of zero-rating deals demonstrates that ISPs will not hesitate to differentiate between sites in return for revenue. Giving them full power to do so will get us stuck with the status quo, which is a local optimum.
Imagine that, in the early 2000s, Microsoft and Yahoo could have inked deals with ISPs, to slow down Google and negate its speed advantage. The US economy would have lost the huge productivity boom that came from faster and better Web search, and Google might not have become the huge contributor to the economy that it is today.
Separately, imagine that an ISP decides to slows down every site expressing opinions that the ISP's CEO does not like. The studies mentioned above show that the impacted sites would lose audience, effectively giving the ISP censorship powers.
Free speech is a pillar of democracy for good reason. Asides from its well-known benefits, my experience in Romania shows that people who know are being censored raise children who are less entrepreneurial and more afraid to challenge the status quo. Again, this would contribute to keeping the US stuck in a local optimum, while the rest of the world roams ahead.
Internet deployment in the US already faces many challenges. Consumers and small businesses enjoy better Internet speeds in many smaller and less resourceful countries. This already has visible impact: virtually all eSports champions come from South Korea and Western European countries. If the current trends are left undisturbed, the center of software development may soon move to one of these regions as well.
Please don't take a step back. Please don't make the US even worse off than it already is. Please don't gut the FCC's net neutrality regulations.
Thank you,
Victor Costan
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