The Federal Communications Commission's plan to repeal the net neutrality rules would harm small businesses and prevent new ones from gaining traction, more than 200 companies are telling FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
"Because of net neutrality, consumers and businesses have unfettered access to one another, increasing competition and consumer choice," Pinterest, Reddit and hundreds of other companies write in a letter to Pai unveiled on Monday. "An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers."
Last week, Pai unveiled a draft of an order to repeal the net neutrality regulations. Those rules, passed in 2015, prohibit broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic and from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery.
The order is slated for a December 14 vote. If the FCC goes through with the repeal, broadband providers "will be able to favor certain websites and e-businesses, or the platforms they use to garner new customers, over others," the companies write.
"Businesses may have to pay a toll just to reach customers," they add. "This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground."
Companies signing the letter note that this Monday -- also called "Cyber Monday" -- often is among the busiest days of the year for online retail. "The internet is increasingly where commerce happens," they write, adding that online sales totaled almost $3.5 billion on last year's Cyber Monday.
The companies writing to Pai aren't the only ones to object to the planned net neutrality repeal. The two Democrat FCC Commissioners are voicing criticism of Pai's proposal.
"Before my fellow FCC members vote to dismantle net neutrality, they need to get out from behind their desks and computers and speak to the public directly," Jessica Rosenworcel wrote last week in an op-ed. "When they do this, they will likely find that, outside of a cadre of high-paid lobbyists and lawyers in Washington, there isn't a constituency that likes this proposal. In fact, the FCC will probably discover that they have angered the public and caused them to question just whom the agency works for."
Many observers expect the FCC to vote along party lines in favor of the repeal. But Stanford Law School's Barbara van Schewick, a net neutrality proponent, suggested Sunday that Congress could pressure the agency to retreat.
Congressional pressure has stopped the FCC before," she wrote in a post on Medium. She adds that last year, the FCC decided not to move forward with a proposal that would have enabled consumers to replace expensive set-top boxes with free apps.