When the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to introduce Internet "fast lanes" in April, many critics called it the beginning of the end for net neutrality.
The basic idea was that large, well-funded companies like Google (which owns YouTube) and Netflix (which is Netflix) could pay a fee to broadband providers like Verizon for faster connectivity to stream content. At the time, critics like Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron said, "Giving ISPs the green light to implement pay-for-priority schemes will be a disaster for startups, nonprofits, and everyday Internet users who cannot afford these unnecessary tolls."
Initially, the FCC responded to critics by calling the death knell bogus, and issued a statement calling the news reports "flat out wrong." This week, however, the commission's plans were dealt what appears to be a major blow as some of the Internet's biggest players undersigned an open letter calling for the FCC's Internet fast lane plan to be nixed. It's quite a list: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Reddit, Yahoo, and many others are on board. You can read the whole list of more than 100 signees here.
"According to recent news reports," they write, "the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them."
They added, "If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet."
This is the first time Google—one of the big, well-funded Internet companies who could ostensibly take advantage the FCC's plans—has publicly come out to denounce the proposed toll road. As of writing this, the FCC has yet to issue a statement regarding the open letter, but we will update this post if anything changes.
[Image: Flickr user Dan Levy]