An anonymous reader writes: The nation’s largest internet service providers are undermining US open internet rules, threatening free speech, and disproportionately harming poor people by using a controversial industry practice called “zero-rating,” a coalition of public interest groups wrote in a letter to federal regulators on Monday.
Companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T use zero-rating, which refers to a variety of practices that exempt certain services from monthly data caps, to undercut “the spirit and the text” of federal rules designed to protect net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible, the groups wrote.
The letter, which was signed by the Center for Media Justice, the Open Technology Institute, Free Press, and dozens of other groups, increases the pressure on the Federal Communications Commission to address zero-rating, which has become the latest battlefront in the decade-long war between policymakers, industry giants, and consumer advocates over how best to ensure internet openness.
Zero-rated plans “distort competition, thwart innovation, threaten free speech, and restrict consumer choice—all harms the rules were meant to prevent,” the groups wrote. “These harms tend to fall disproportionately on low income communities and communities of color, who tend to rely on mobile networks as their primary or exclusive means of access to the internet.”