FCC member blasts Google-Verizon plan, says it favors the rich

A member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at a rally in Minneapolis Thursday denounced the net-neutrality framework proposed by Google and Verizon, saying it would create “gated communities for the affluent” on the Internet.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said the plan proposed by the companies would protect the firms' interests at the expense of consumers.

“The Verizon-Google gaggle wants to build a world of private Internets that would vastly diminish the centrality of the Internet that you and I know," Copps said at the rally. "They want a tiered Internet.”

“ 'Managed services' is what they call this,” he added. “ 'Gated communities for the affluent' is what I call them."

Copps said the Google-Verizon plan would diminish the FCC's authority to impose net-neutrality rules on wireless broadband providers, which are increasingly used to access Web services. 

Net-neutrality regulations would prevent Internet providers from favoring some websites over others.  

Copps said a generation of media consolidation and the decline of quality programming on broadcast channels is evidence that cable companies and content providers can't be trusted to place the public's interests ahead of their own.

"These very big, very powerful, very wealthy companies pronounced to Capitol Hill, the FCC and the public that they have now agreed upon a policy framework that will work for the benefit of the American people," Copps said. "Of course, it wasn’t developed with input from the American people, but it is, they assure us, for the American people. It’s 'trust us,' one more time."

The net neutrality advocacy group Free Press said more than 750 people showed up to the rally Thursday, including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. 

Franken has strongly condemned the Google-Verizon proposal and urged the FCC to take action to implement strict net-neutrality rules. He has also voiced opposition to Comcast's proposed acquisition of NBC Universal, citing the negative effect of media consolidation on the marketplace of ideas.

“We can’t let companies write the rules that we the people are supposed to follow,” Franken said. “If that happens, those rules will be written only to protect corporations. I urge the FCC to oppose any efforts to undermine net neutrality and to impede the flow of information online.”

“The number of people in the audience tonight and watching online reminds us all that the debate over the future of the Internet is not just for techies, bloggers or geeks,” Free Press President Josh Silver said. “It is about nothing less than the future of all communications and democracy itself.”