Mozilla: the Net Neutrality Buck Stops at ISPs

Denelle Dixon, COO of Mozilla, will tell Congress today that net neutrality should be the fundamental rule of the road for internet access and that rule needs, well, fundamental rules.

That is according to her prepared testimony for the House Communications Subcommittee hearing on net neutrality Thursday (Feb. 7).

Dixon has a big dog in that net neutrality regulation fight. Mozilla is the lead plaintiff in the legal challenge to the FCC decision to eliminate bright-line rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

"We are at a pivotal moment in the evolution of the internet," she said. "We need net neutrality protections today more than ever before. The 'honeymoon' is over: We now can see the privacy, security, openness, and trust problems that surround us online. And net neutrality is the foundation upon which we can start to build a better internet future, creating room for new businesses and new ideas to emerge and flourish, and ensuring internet users can choose freely those companies, products, and services that put their interests first."

Edge providers, rather than ISPs, have been arguably a bigger target of the "honeymoon is over" rhetoric in Washington recently given the revelations about privacy and security and transparency involving Google and Facebook and others, but Dixon suggests ISPs are the bulk of the problem and net neutrality regs on them as part of the solution. "If we don’t restore net neutrality protections, the skewed playing field we see on the internet today will only grow more uneven," she says.

She does not suggest the edge is without stain. "Don’t get me wrong-there are many problems with the internet today. Privacy and data security are critical threats to trust online, and we are working every day to lead by example and champion public policy to promote better practices. Centralization and concentrated corporate control threaten user choice, small business competitiveness, and independent innovation and tinkering. And we see online abuse and misinformation polluting the marketplace of ideas.

But she suggests the platform must be stabilized before the edifices get repaired. "[I]f we don’t restore net neutrality protections, we will undermine the foundation on which we strive to build solutions to these problems, and lose the core of how the internet was built," she says.

Dixon also draws a distinction between the FAANG's (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) of the world and Mozilla, suggesting they will benefit from a non-neutral net: "It seems like every day the news presents us with a new story of some abuse of our trust online by a major tech company. Yet these very same big companies are the best positioned to buy fast lanes in a future non-neutral internet. The entrepreneurs, small businesses, and independent voices will be the ones left behind."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.