Yesterday, EFF and the ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief (press release) defending the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules in the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Along with our legal arguments, we submitted a statement signed by dozens of engineers familiar with Internet infrastructure. Signers include current and former members of the Internet Engineering Task Force and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' committees, professors, CTOs, network security engineers, Internet architects, systems administrators and network engineers, and even a founder of the company that registered the first ".com" domain.
In the statement, the engineers warn that
“without openness and neutrality the Internet as we know it will cease to exist, because it is that openness and neutrality that give the Internet its flexibility, lead to its growth, and have made it a vital resource for all aspects of modern life.”
The engineers explain in detail how ISP discrimination could require innovators to negotiate with ISPs before their applications will work, rather than being able to rely on ISPs to pass data in a neutral manner. ISP interference could also introduce errors and security vulnerabilities that would be challenging to fix.
The engineers also debunk claims that the FCC’s net neutrality order interferes with reasonable network management, explaining how ISPs routinely defend networks from attack and deal with congestion in ways that do not violate the FCC’s rules.
The court is no stranger to these issues. It agreed in 2012 [PDF] that the FCC’s concerns about ISP discrimination were “based firmly in common sense and economic reality.” It held, though, that the FCC relied upon the wrong statutory authority for its earlier rules. Now that the FCC has corrected that error, we are hopeful that the court will uphold the FCC’s order and defend net neutrality.