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BlackBerry CEO points finger at "anti net-neutrality" Apple and Netflix

For an open internet, policymakers should demand openness not just at the traffic/transport layer, but also at the content/applications layer of the ecosystem.

In a letter sent to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and US Senator Bill Nelson and US Representative Frank Pallone Jr, the BlackBerry CEO John Chen claimed that President Obama and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler “have put net neutrality back on the front burner with their recently announced support for reclassifying both wireline and wireless broadband as Title II services”.

Saying that world leaders rely on BlackBerry’s high security, end-to-end secure communications network to protect their most sensitive communications, and Chen said that banning carriers from discriminating but allowing content and applications providers to continue doing so will solve nothing.

Chen called for any net neutrality legislation to take a holistic view of the entire playing field, addressing both carrier neutrality and content/application neutrality.

However, he pointed at Apple and Netflix for not embracing net neutrality and openness. He said: “Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple’s iMessage messaging service. Netflix, which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them.

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“Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. This dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems. These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level.”

Chen said that neutrality “must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory Internet”.

“All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system,” he said.

At last year’s IP Expo, world wide web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee said that the fight for net neutrality is important, “that we keep a platform without attitude or a centre, that is not asking permission”.

He said: “The internet was designed so cleanly as it was designed with no centre and it is hard work keeping it as one web, and open, but you can spread across the internet and build into it the same thing and do whatever you like. If you want to build a new experience, you don’t ask me for permission as there is no central control.”

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