The New York Times editorial board is accusing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of trying to create a “two-speed Internet” with its new net neutrality plan.
The proposal, which has garnered loud criticism from both sides of the political aisle, “does not meaningfully prevent discrimination” and is “largely a capitulation to the broadband industry," the paper said on Friday.
The plan, floated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler this week, would keep in place existing safeguards that prevent some service providers from blocking content to one site or another, but would also make it possible to speed up access to some services. The proposal would allow companies like Google or Netflix to cut special deals with service providers like Comcast or Verizon to speed up Internet speeds to their sites, so long as the deals were “commercially reasonable.”
Critics have said that would go against the entire ethos of net neutrality, which is to ensure that all content online is treated equally.
“It would essentially give broadband companies the right to create the digital equivalent of high-occupancy vehicle lanes for content providers, like Netflix and Amazon, wealthy enough to pay a toll,” the Times editorial board wrote, adding that the proposal would “destroy the principle” of online equality.
Instead, the editorial board argues the FCC should decide to reclassify broadband Internet and regulate it like phone service, instead of an information service.
That would be a controversial move that Wheeler has so far resisted, though FCC officials have maintained it remains on the table.
The FCC was forced to rewrite its net neutrality rules after a top appeals could threw out its previous ones earlier this year.