Next Threat to Internet: Fast Lanes for Some?
September 16, 2013- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal appeals court has heard
arguments from Verizon, which would benefit if it and other Internet service
providers could start charging fees to content providers to reach some
customers through faster speeds. This idea of an Internet "fast lane"
would create an uneven playing field, in the eyes of the FCC, which says
established, deep-pockets companies such as Facebook and Google would have an
edge over small startups. That could prevent the next Google or Facebook from
Jennifer Yeh, policy counsel for the advocacy group Free
Press, was in the courtroom and said the three-judge panel could do away with
what's called the Open Internet Order.
"It prevents content providers from paying for priority
access to get to users," Yeh described that order. "It prevents a
tiered system of superhighways for the rich and slow-speed ways for the
If this case results in the FCC losing some of its
regulatory authority over the Internet, amalia deloney, policy director with
the Center for Media Justice, said it could lead to voices of dissent and the
disenfranchised being blocked from the Web.
"We need to be able to have groups like Iraq Veterans
Against the War be able to express their anti-war views within the current
debate between the president and Congress on Syria," deloney declared.
Jennifer Yeh said it isn't hard to imagine what would happen
if Internet service providers were freed from the FCC's current oversight.
"There will be no government oversight of our
communications network, and corporations will retain control over what content
we see, how much we pay for that content," she warned. "In other
words, our Internet will start to look a lot more like our cable system."
Critics also say added costs would be passed on to
consumers. The case could be decided late this year or early next.Most
observers felt that, by their questioning, two of the three judges leaned
toward freeing Verizon from some of the control the FCC has over it.