Internet giants argue FCC plans

Google and Amazon take complaint to FCC

A US federal regulator has received backlash following the announcement of its intended plans for the future of the Internet.

Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been met with hostility from politicians and web giants over his controversial plans that will formalise the intended strategy for a higher speed Internet; but only for those who have the funds to pay for it.

On Wednesday, Google, Amazon and Facebook were amongst 100 technology companies protesting the change in a signed letter to the FCC which rejected "individualised bargaining and discrimination" for Internet traffic, and claimed the proposal to be a "grave threat to the Internet".

Why has the FFC decided to change the rules?

The future of net neutrality has been uncertain since a federal court dismissed the majority of the FCC's open Internet order in January, during a case brought forward by Verizon; a US based broadband and telecommunications company. This loss urged large broadband companies to lobby for Internet fast lanes, with the plan to charge users extra for the privilege.

Protesters from Fight For the Future and Popular Resistance have been camped outside the FCC since Wednesday, and announced their intention to remain there until 15th May when the Commission is due to vote on whether the plan will go ahead.

What does the future hold for net neutrality?

Wednesday's letter from technology companies is in line with the concerns stated by public interest groups, who believe that the plans will mean the end of net neutrality - the concept that all Internet traffic is regarded equally on the web. The letter from Google et al. said: "[The FCC must] take the necessary steps to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce."

Meanwhile, Wheeler has stated in a recent blog post that the FCC's new rules will protect net neutrality:

"The Internet will remain like it is today, an open pathway... If a broadband provider (ISP) acts in a manner that keeps users from effectively taking advantage of that pathway then it should be a violation of the Open Internet rules."

Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword said: "There are millions of people against the FCC's plans, though a two-tier system has already been partially in place for the major companies since the regulator lost to Verizon in January, with many making deals for a faster service.

"However, the significant issue to bear in mind is that we now live in a society where we consider access to the Internet to be a basic human right, and changing the rules now regarding who can and who cannot use fast, readily available Internet will affect a large number of people's lives as well as businesses."