Open Internet advocates have hit out at a US web traffic management plan proposed by Google and Verizon.
The joint proposals, unveiled yesterday, would make it illegal for operators to prioritize web traffic, and provide the FCC with new enforcement powers that would allow it to fine companies up to $2 million (€1.5 million) for breaching the rules.
Google and Verizon also want to force carriers to be transparent about the services on offer, and to encourage them to develop new services with firms that haven’t traditionally operated in the web environment.
However, a clause designed to prevent new services from circumventing the rules was branded “incredibly vague,” by Ovum chief telecom analyst Jan Dawson, who said the rule was “wide enough to capture almost anything.”
Media reform advocates Free Press said the proposals would turn the Internet into a closed platform.
“It's a signed-sealed-and-delivered policy framework with giant loopholes that blesses the carving up of the Internet for a few deep-pocketed internet companies and carriers,” political advisor Joel Kelsey stated. “It will lead to outright blocking of applications and content on increasingly popular wireless platforms.”
Kelsey’s views were echoed by GigaOm blogger Stacey Higginbotham, who said the exclusion of wireless networks, “opens the gateway for carrier blocking of certain applications delivered via the web to wireless handsets.”
FCC commissioner Michael Copps was more positive stating that it was time for the agency to reassert its “authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations.”
But consumer interest group Public Knowledge said the plan would actually cripple the FCC’s ability to regulate broadband services, by giving industry players the power to set the rules rather than the regulator.
“The agreement outsources the FCC’s powers and authorities to the very industries these rules are supposed to oversee,” deputy legal director Sherwin Sly said.