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Google, Facebook, Amazon Chiefs Come Out Swinging Against Net Neutrality Foes

Michele Masterson

"An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail," the letter stated. "America's leadership in the technology space has been due, in large part, to the open Internet. We applaud your leadership in initiating a process to develop rules to ensure that the qualities that have made the Internet so successful are protected."

The missive was sent on behalf of The Open Internet Coalition, an advocacy group that has called for ISP behemoths to end the practice of preventing consumers from accessing Internet content the companies deem competitive.

In remarks made last month at the Brookings Institute, Genachowski took telecoms to task for such actions as spoofing and jamming traffic in an effort to derail peer-to-peer protocols.

"We have witnessed certain broadband providers unilaterally block access to VoIP applications and implement technical measures that degrade the performance of peer-to-peer [P2P] software distributing lawful content," Genachowski said. "We have even seen at least one service provider deny users access to political content."

An Open Internet Coalition spokesperson said although some of the signees of the letter to Genachowski have sat on the sidelines in the debate, they were spurred into support by recent efforts by those opposing Net Neutrality.

"Given the speed that the other side has started to mount an aggressive campaign against Net Neutrality, we now have people coming out of the woodwork to support us," the spokesperson said.

In late September, following Genachowski's Brookings speech, six members of Congress introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would prohibit the FCC from expending funds to develop and implement new regulatory mandates. The amendment is co-sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

The Republicans accused the Open Internet Coalition and Genachowski of trying to impose undue government regulations that would interfere with the ISPs' business.

While ISP heavyweight Comcast has been singled out in the past for interfering with Internet protocols, a source closely involved in the Net Neutrality issue said that the main culprit is AT&T.

"The major telecos are desperately trying to kill this process [Net Neutrality]," said the source who did not want to be named. "AT&T has been the major driver behind the effort. Verizon is involved, but not making a full court press."

Monday's letter was signed by leaders from Amazon; Digg; Facebook; LinkedIn; OpenDNS; Twitter; Zynga; Cbeyond; eBay; Flickr; Meetup; Skype; Vuze; Craigslist; EchoStar; Google; Mozilla; Sony Electronics; XO Communications; Expedia; IAC; One Communications; Tivo; and YouTube.

The FCC will hold a hearing on Oct. 22 seeking comments about the issue.

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