'Fast lanes' meetings for Facebook and Google

Facebook and Google executives recently met with top officials at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss their opposition to “fast lanes” on the Internet.

Two of the FCC’s five commissioners — Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, and Michael O’Rielly, a Republican — held separate meetings with top Facebook officials last Wednesday and Thursday. Rosenworcel’s meeting included Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. She also met separately with Google executives.

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The meetings, which occurred last week in Silicon Valley, were disclosed through formal notices published by the FCC this week.

In its filings, Facebook stated that the company would like to see the Internet remain “free and open” and urged the FCC to enact rules against “fast lanes." It warned against the notion that websites should have to pay Internet service providers like Comcast or Cox for faster service — a prospect that would seem to be allowed under the proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Google’s filing made clear that it feared the FCC could allow companies to create “scarcity and congestion” on Internet networks in order to force websites to pay for quicker access to Web users.

“As technology evolves, the broadband ecosystem will be well-served by a policy environment that removes barriers to investment, discourages monetization of scarcity, and empowers consumers,” the company stated in its filing.

Facebook, Google and other Internet titans like Netflix have voiced their opposition to the FCC’s proposal. Democrats and left-leaning consumer advocates have also worried the plan would let Internet providers enact “tolls” for faster service online.

Major cable companies and Republicans, meanwhile, have warned the FCC not to overstep its bounds with tough new rules, which they say would make it harder for the Internet to grow as it has over the last decade.