Pushback on Pay-for-Priority Internet Rules Heats Up Further

A NoSlowLane petition is using a gamer-geared video, Senator Franken and President Obama's own words to demand the FCC's support of net neutrality. 

net neutrality

The public pushback continues against proposed Internet rules that would allow businesses to pay for faster content-delivery speeds—what detractors are calling a "fast lane."

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) has launched a video created by animators at Pixel Valley Studio, encouraging Internet users—younger users and gamers are the most clearly intended audiences—to sign a petition at NoSlowLane.com.

Titled 2084 Calling, the video features an avatar that tells viewers that in the year 2084, only big corporations can afford premium service and all other traffic has been relegated to the slow lane.

"It's like living in the laggiest game you've ever played. That kills the startups and competition. Innovation dried up. And all we have left is the junk that the big corporations want us to see," the avatar says.

The NoSlowLane effort has also been backed by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who in a video posted to YouTube calls net neutrality "the free speech issue of our time."

To illustrate the kind of innovation that could be lost, Franken tells the story of how YouTube was created "over a pizzeria in San Mateo," in response to how lousy Google TV was. Because the two offerings ran at the same speeds, it made it simple for viewers to choose and support the option they liked best. Since then, Google has bought YouTube and "everyone has benefitted."

If a fast lane is allowed, "mom and pop stores would lose even more ground to corporate giants. Big media giants would be able to get their version of the news to consumers faster and would end up paying for it with higher rates for [consumers'] Internet service," Franken continues.
"We cannot allow the FCC to implement a pay-to-play system that silences our voices and amplifies that of big corporate interests. We have come to a crossroads. Now is the time to rise up. ... We paid for a free and open Internet. We can't let it be taken away."

In January, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled, in Verizon vs. FCC, that Verizon isn't beholden to the FCC's Open Internet Order regulations (which require all online traffic to be treated equally) because Internet service providers (ISPs) aren't categorized as "common carriers"—essentially, public utilities under a Title II umbrella. Since then, the FCC has been working on a fix, whether via a new set of rules or by re-categorizing ISPs.

On May 15, the FCC voted to adopt Chairman Tom Wheeler's Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which moved the FCC a step closer to putting new rules in place. The Notice has raised controversy for leaving open the potential for prioritized service.