By Gregory Ferenstein
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to allow paid Internet ‘fast lanes’ is quickly losing support as more than 100 technology companies sign on to save the current net neutrality law.
“The cracks are beginning to show in Chairman Wheeler’s plan that would undermine net neutrality,” said president of public policy group, Free Press, Craig Aaron, in a statement.
“The more people learn about this proposal, the more skeptical they become. That list of skeptics now includes two Democratic commissioners who have taken the unusual step of questioning the Democratic chairman’s approach.”
Tech titans, including Facebook, Ebay, Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Twitter, Reddit, and dozens of startups, have all signed on to a letter [PDF] urging the commission to reject the proposed changes.
Tech companies are bolstered by internal dissent. Ultimately, Wheeler may not have the votes to allow telecommunications companies to strike paid prioritization deals, which allow for faster Internet service on the last mile to consumers homes for some services.
FCC commission Jessica Rosenworcel expressed “real concerns” for the so-called “fast line” prioritization deals.
Wheeler contends that the critics have misunderstood his proposal and that he won’t hesitate to act should telecommunications firms exploit new rules with anti-competitive practices.
But tech companies worry that any prioritization schemes threaten to unravel the meritocratic web.
“Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission’s rules should protect users and Internet companies on both ﬁxed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization and should make the market for Internet services more transparent,” argued the letter.
This story is ongoing, and we will update you as the net neutrality debate unfolds.