Report: FCC to Allow Internet 'Fast Lanes'

Critics fear move means net neutrality is dead

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 24, 2014 12:48 AM CDT | Updated Apr 24, 2014 7:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – Is the Federal Communications Commission preparing to kill off the concept of "net neutrality" by allowing Internet providers to offer a "fast lane" for preferred customers? New rules being proposed by the commission would allow major content providers like Netflix or Disney to pay a premium to deliver content to consumers' homes faster, according to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Critics warn that this would undermine the concept of all Internet traffic being treated equally, and put smaller Internet firms at a major disadvantage.

"If it goes forward, this capitulation will represent Washington at its worst," says the program director of Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. "Americans were promised, and deserve, an Internet that is free of toll roads, fast lanes, and censorship—corporate or governmental." FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, however, says reports of a U-turn on net neutrality policy are "flat-out wrong," NPR reports. He says the new rules will help preserve some form of net neutrality in the wake of a court decision earlier this year striking down the FCC's open Internet regulations.

Members of global advocacy group Avaaz stand next to a digital counter showing the number of petition signatures calling for net neutrality outside the Federal Communication Commission in Washington.   (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Avaaz)
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For technologists and entrepreneurs alike this is a worst-case scenario. Creating a fast lane for those that can afford it is by its very definition discrimination. - Eric Klinker, chief executive of BitTorrent

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