Haymarket, VA, March 25, 2016 – Fred Campbell, director of Tech Knowledge, issued the following statement regarding Netflix’s admission that its been secretly throttling its wireless video traffic on a discriminatory basis:
“When I first raised concerns about Netflix’s cynical manipulation of Internet traffic flows in this analysis, I thought the FCC would ask Netflix some questions like these. Instead, it was a Canadian regulator who used language from my initial analysis (in this hearing) to ask Netflix whether it was throttling traffic to aid its net neutrality lobbying efforts, and Netflix’s director of global public policy who said, ‘The allegations that we slowed our traffic or otherwise [are] responsible for degrading users’ service are categorically untrue.’
Yesterday, however, staff at the Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix now admits that it has been secretly throttling its video traffic for more than five years in a manner that is patently discriminatory.
Make no mistake, the importance of this revelation for U.S. Internet policy goes well beyond Netflix and the all-too-common practice of corporate hypocrisy in Washington. Policymakers in the U.S. have systematically excluded Netflix and all other “over-the-top” companies from Internet, privacy, and video regulations that would otherwise apply based on the presumption that over-the-top companies lack the incentive or ability to engage in discriminatory or anticompetitive behavior that could harm consumers or competition. Netflix just proved that presumption is dead wrong.
The public policies that govern communications systems should be purposeful, not haphazard. They should be applied in a way that’s even-handed, not in a way that treats one set of industry participants better than another. They should be based on credible, reliable data, not anecdotal evidence offered by large corporations seeking government favors. And when there are credible allegations that a company has secretly engaged in practices that have been deemed harmful to consumers and competition, policymakers should investigate those allegations in good faith, not ignore them.
Now that Netflix has finally admitted the truth, Congress, the FCC, and the FTC should fully investigate Netflix’s secret and discriminatory throttling practices.”
Tech Knowledge promotes market-oriented technology policies on behalf of the public interest. Additional information about Tech Knowledge can be found on our website, techknowledge.center.