The internet is one of the most important resources on the planet, being a wellspring of information and opportunity. Every day, billions of people use it in some way or another, either for leisure or for work, making it the largest market in the world.
This immense size means that conflicts are bound to occur between businesses that want to get the largest slice that they can. And one of the biggest heavyweights in the technology field finally stepped into the ring.
Apple has finally entered into the fight over Net Neutrality, the belief that internet service providers should allow access to all content and applications regardless of sources. The massive technology vendor, whose market cap totals $815 billion, weighed in on the several-year-old issue, calling for “strong and open internet.”
While the company has, historically, been rather quiet on the subject of net neutrality, it couldn’t keep quiet anymore. It filed a comment with the FCC, formally calling for “strong, enforceable, and open internet protections.” They especially pointed to the desire for consumer choice, transparency, and competition.
“Our deep respect for our customers’ security, privacy, and control over personal information extends to our customers’ broadband connectivity choices,” the filing reads. “We work hard to build great products, and what consumers do with those tools is up to them—not Apple, and not broadband providers.”
Given that mobile phones make up 10% of global internet traffic, and that Apple is a leader in the global smartphone market, the company has a lot of influence on the issue. However, the move is very unusual on the tech giant’s part, as they have refused to support the cause of net neutrality in the past. It doesn’t, however, appear to have happened without reason.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier in the year at a shareholders meeting that while the company will “stay out of politics,” it will keep investing in policy. And that if “Net Neutrality became a top issue, [Apple] would definitely engage in it.”
The company finally taking a stance on the issue means that it finally believes it’s big enough to. However, the FCC comment doesn’t mean that Apple has completely thrown itself behind the advocates for Net Neutrality, as it closed its comments with an important caveat, that the company was still “open to alternative sources of legal authority, but only if they provide for strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable protections, like those in place today.”
This means that, rather than push for the internet to be classified as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act, Apple will remain open to negotiations. That leaves the company a little wiggle room, just in case.
Still, net neutrality advocates are happy to have Apple on their side.