Some European businesses fear the upcoming repeal of net neutrality protections the Federal Communications Commission is planning on greenlighting this Thursday, the New York Times reported earlier today, citing an official of Dutch search engine Startpage that calls itself "the world's most private" solution of its kind. Startpage Chief Executive Officer Robert Beens was cited as suggesting the company would have a hard time maintaining a sustainable business model in the United States should domestic Internet service providers start charging firms for privileged access, or "fast lanes." Approximately half of two billion searches performed by Startpage on a yearly basis originate from the U.S. and the platform's ability to be just as responsive and easy to access as Google is of paramount importance to its operations, Mr. Beens said.
Many smaller businesses on the Old Continent offering international products and services may face similar issues should ISPs decide to take full advantage of the FCC's decision to stop requiring them to provide equal Internet access to all websites and customers. U.S. entrepreneurs are also endangered by the proposed alternative which acknowledges the importance of an open Internet but recuses the FCC from regulating any related matters. As per the proposal authored by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, any potential violations of net neutrality principles would be left to the Federal Trade Commission to sanction. While the FTC may soon lose its ability to regulate common carriers, the FCC already refused to delay its vote to wait for the outcome of the agency's trial with AT&T that could strip it of such jurisdiction and even mocked some organizations who proposed that course of action by calling them "desperate."
Despite strong net neutrality protections and a significantly higher level of competition compared to the U.S., European regulators still clashed with certain wireless carriers over the matter in recent years. Still, many industry watchers believe the open Internet is adequately protected in Europe largely due to a plethora of alternatives consumers have when choosing their wireless carrier. On the other hand, regional ISP monopolies and duopolies are still an issue in the U.S., especially when not accounting for companies that are only competing with major broadband providers on paper but in reality aren't offering contemporary Internet speeds in all covered areas, making consumer choice in certain regions essentially non-existent.