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Shapeways CEO Argues for Net Neutrality

Just hours after the FCC ruled to repeal Obama-era regulations regarding the internet, the New York Daily News ran an opinion piece by Tom Finn, CEO of 3D printing startup Shapeways.

Finn described the FCC’s decision as eliminating “net neutrality protections.  These protections have prevented internet service providers like Comcast and Charter from discriminating against websites or pushing internet users towards services that the ISPs own or that have paid for priority.”

Finn goes on to say: “one of the biggest losers of this decision will be startups like mine and the users who benefit from them…in the past, an innovative startup could challenge an established company by offering a better service.  Now, it would also need to figure out how to out-bid [tech giants] for advantageous internet access.”

Finn’s “company, Shapeways, gives anyone with an internet connection access to 3D printing technology.  [Shapeways allows] everyone to turn digital files into objects made of materials such as ultra-high-detail plastic, porcelain, steel, and even gold.  [Shapeways’] marketplace allows entrepreneurs and designers to open shops and sell those independently created, 3D printed objects to customers around the world.”

“Since every object is printed on demand, these shops allow creators to reach the whole online world without upfront cost or risk.  But [Shapeways – and other companies (and creators) like it] need a level playing field in order to be able to compete.”

Finn describes how without net neutrality protections, “ISPs would simply be able to wait for [Shapeways] to prove the viability of [its] model, and then create their own 3D printing services.  Once they have their own version of [Shapeways’] product, those ISPs could decide to block or throttle access to [Shapeways and companies like it], or even redirect traffic to their own services instead.”

Finn concludes: “The FCC’s vote…does not have to be the final word in this debate.  Congress can – and should – step in to protect net neutrality.  It could even do so in a bipartisan manner…[Shapeways, among many other tech companies,] are asking Congress to take the steps necessary to protect an open internet.  Congress needs to make clear it stands behind a fair, open internet, which ensures a level playing field for everyone.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of the New York Daily News and Shapeways

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