The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted in favor of advancing a proposal that could dramatically reshape the way consumers experience the Internet, opening the possibility of Internet service providers charging Web sites for higher-quality delivery of their content to American consumers.
The plan, approved in a three-to-two vote along party lines, could unleash a new economy on the Web where an Internet service provider such as Verizon would charge a Web site such as Netflix for faster video streaming. The proposal would, though, prohibit telecom firms from outright blocking Web sites.
The plan is not a final rule, but the vote on Thursday is a significant step forward on a controversial idea that has invited fierce opposition from consumer advocates, Silicon Valley heavyweights, and Democratic lawmakers. The FCC will now open the proposal to a total 120 days of public comment. Final rules, aimed for the end of the year, could be rewritten after the agency reviews the public comments.
Critics of the plan, as it stands now, worry that it would mark the end of net neutrality, the principle that says that all content online should be treated equally by Internet service providers.
The FCC voted 3-2 to take the next step toward adopting a new proposal on net neutrality. A public comment period is now open.
The proposal would leave the door open for companies to strike deals that would prioritize some Internet traffic over others, but any such deal would be subject to scrutiny by the FCC.
The process isn't over — after the public comment period, the FCC will write a final set of rules and vote on them.
This is outrageous.