This Week: End of the Internet As We Know It?

By Carla Murphy May 12, 2014

In response to public pressure and ahead of a vote this Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission has revised a draft proposal that critics say will for the first time build inequality into the Internet. The new language modifies but doesn’t fundamentally alter the rule’s intent.

All traffic whether Bentley or hoopty currently runs on the same massive highway, but critics say the proposed rule change will create a special lane for consumers and content creators able to pay for faster service and a slow lane for those who can’t. Many are calling the FCC plan, up for a vote this Thursday May 15th, the end of "net neutrality," which says that online, all data should be treated equally regardless of who produces it.

New language, according to the Washington Post, citing an anonymous FCC official, "would explicitly warn Internet service providers such as Verizon and AT&T that they can’t unfairly put the content of Web companies that don’t pay for special treatment on a "slow lane."" How the FCC would enforce non-discrimination hasn’t been explicitly detailed.

More than 100 Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon and smaller tech firms last week sent a protest letter to FCC commissioner and Obama appointee, Tom Wheeler. And media advocacy groups like the Center for Media Justice are beating the drums about how the proposed two-lane highway hurts people of color and those living in rural areas.

The FCC is taking public comments through openinternet(at)fcc(dot)gov.