Blackberry Wants to Force Netflix to Develop App Through Net Neutrality Rules

CEO John Chen's proposal sparks ridicule, including one person who compares it to forcing Disney to release "Frozen" on Laser Disc.
AP Images

Somewhere within Comcast headquarters, there's surely an executive smirking at Blackberry CEO John Chen's proposal that the FCC take a broad approach to net neutrality by having it cover apps too.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Chen wrote that Netflix "has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them."

While arguing that reclassifying broadband as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act "seems excessive," Chen nevertheless adopted the position that "neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet."

Chen's argument that companies like Netflix should be deemed as violating the law by serving Android and iPhone users — but not Blackberry ones — is sparking some ridicule even among those who support strong net neutrality rules.

One columnist at PC World calls it a "profoundly stupid idea." Another at Gizmodo describes it a "a complicated pretzel of crazy." Then, there's a comment on Chen's blog asking, "Seriously? Are you be upset if Disney failed to release Frozen on VHS, Betamax and Laser Disc?"

The FCC has indicated that it will be rolling out its new net neutrality proposals in February with companies like Comcast softly supporting anti-blocking, anti-throttling and anti-paid-prioritization measures while drawing the line at Title II reclassification, which would theoretically give the government the power to set price caps even if the regulatory agency could waive away such authority by invoking forbearance. A move to adopt net neutrality under Title II could spark lawsuits challenging the FCC's authority, which might be why those hoping for less regulation probably are taking a bit of perverse joy that Chen's proposal isn't being warmly received.

For those wondering if people still use Blackberries, Business Insider has spotted some executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland carrying two phones — a Blackberry to type with, plus an iPhone to presumably do other stuff like watch videos on Netflix.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner

comments powered by Disqus