Following a letter in which Twitter along with others had asked US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider its plan to end net neutrality, the agency’s Indian-origin Chairman Ajit Pai has dubbed the micro-blogging site as a “part of the problem”.
During an event hosted by the “free market think tank” R Street Institute and the “liberty”-focused Lincoln Network, Pai threw Twitter and other online services under the bus to show that it is not just broadband providers that can exert control over Internet content, Tech Crunch reported late on Tuesday.
“When it comes to an open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate,” he was quoted as saying.
“Twitter blocked Representative Marsha Blackburn from advertising her Senate campaign launch video because it featured a pro-life message. Before that, during the so-called Day of Action, Twitter warned users that a link to a statement by one company on the topic of Internet regulation ‘may be unsafe’,” he added.
“And to say the least, the company appears to have a double standard when it comes to suspending or de-verifying conservative users’ accounts as opposed to those of liberal users. This conduct is many things, but it isn’t fighting for an open Internet,” he noted.
On Monday, over 200 businesses asked FCC to reconsider its plan to end net neutrality after the agency announced voting to rollback rules adopted in 2015 that require internet service providers to treat all online traffic equally.
As per current net neutrality rules, all businesses are allowed to compete equally. But without those rules, online businesses may be stymied by internet providers that prioritise their own interests, the companies said.
The FCC will vote on the proposal, known as Restoring Internet Freedom Order, at its December 14 open meeting.
Pai highlighted two downsides to the present rules — decrease in investment and stifle innovation.
Pai last week had said that the so-called net neutrality rules “imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations” upon the internet that have “depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks”.
On content, he said that recent experience shows that so-called edge providers are deciding what content consumers see. These providers routinely block or discriminate against content they do not like.
“In this way, edge providers are a much bigger actual threat to an open Internet than broadband providers, especially when it comes to discrimination on the basis of viewpoint… So let’ss be clear,” he said.
“They might cloak their advocacy in the public interest, but the real interest of these Internet giants is in using the regulatory process to cement their dominance in the Internet economy,” he added.