updated 01:45 pm EDT, Sun May 18, 2014
Apple co-founder relays how important keeping Internet open is to country
Inventor and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has penned an open letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) emphasizing the importance of the agency to the people of the United States, and its role as a protector of the open Internet. The letter, published in The Atlantic magazine, chronicles Wozniak's history with telecom and the headaches he's run across at various times because of the monopoly companies have had as a result of government policies.
In the article, Wozniak used his experience trying to start new projects in his youth, or attempts to make things easier for himself and his neighbors, to give some insight into the problem with creating a monopoly system. From creating a telephone joke line under cost-prohibitive circumstances to wiring his own TV network inside his home, each project has had hurdles to cross because of laws and regulations that have given telecommunication companies the power to ignore customers. Even his attempts to get DSL at his home, or provide TV service to his neighbors, has been shot down because of monetary limitations.
Even though Wozniak points out some of the issue that he has run into because of the telecom advantage, he asks the FCC to listen to the voice of the people to keep the Internet from such a fate. By giving some of the examples in his letter, he outlines the sort of innovations and experimentation that would be stifled if the new net neutrality rules were to be adopted into law. Likening the control of Internet speeds to billing for the bits processed on a computer, Wozniak points out just how detrimental the current line of thinking is. By taking power away from the people and placing it into the hands of a set of corporations that already have power, the freedom of the Internet will disappear in his view.
"We have very few government agencies that the populace views as looking out for them, the people. The FCC is one of these agencies that is still wearing a white hat," says Wozniak. "Not only is current action on net neutrality one of the most important times ever for the FCC, it's probably the most momentous and watched action of any government agency in memorable times -- in terms of setting our perception of whether the government represents the wealthy powers or the average citizen, of whether the government is good or is bad. This decision is important far beyond the domain of the FCC itself."
Although the government has failed Wozniak in the past, as well as other citizens, he still thinks that there is hope for the FCC. His thoughts echo what many citizens have communicated under the current proposal recently voted on by the commission. Having passed the recently-revised guidelines, the proposal is currently in a public-comment period in which input from those affected is sought and encouraged -- a fact groups like the EFF are hoping the public takes advantage of.