Proposed new net neutrality rules would mark "the end of the Internet as we know it," one expert says, and would represent another failed campaign promise by President Barack Obama if it is allowed to be implemented.
In April, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that he would propose new rules for net neutrality, the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. His proposal, scheduled to be released May 15, would allow Internet service providers to charge Web services to prioritize their traffic, creating "fast lanes" where the biggest companies would be able to afford to push content and "slow lanes" where others would not.
Marvin Ammori, a board member of Engine Advocacy, told J.D. Hayworth and Miranda Kahn on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that this proposal "will literally crush the kind of innovation we've seen on the Internet, where you never needed permission or a lot of money to just start a website or to start a new media outlet."
"Those of you who live on the Internet, imagine if this rule had been around 10 years ago," Ammori said. "We'd still be using MySpace and Alta Vista. So, we'll see a lot less innovation and you'll probably see your prices go up because when Netflix starts paying Comcast for better service, they're going to have to make that money up somewhere, so you pay Comcast, then you're going to pay Netflix extra, and you'll see a lot less cool technologies on the Internet," he said Tuesday.
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The proposal, Ammori says, is expected to cater to the nearly decade-long desires of the big communication companies.
"The FCC wants to bless fast lanes and slow lanes, this is what AT&T and Verizon have wanted, what Comcast had lobbied for about eight or nine years," he said. "So, first we're going to have fast lanes and slow lanes that only, you know, fast lanes only lobbyist companies can pay for. Then the FCC is going to set up a legal complaint process that will be impossible for any small company to ever win.
"To make it even worse, what so many people don't realize is you can have exclusive deals under the FCC's proposal. You can have a deal where the preferred TV outlet of, you know, Verizon's Internet service is, you know, MSNBC service on Comcast is something different, and so, it really will crush the kind of open, level playing field we've had on the Internet, and it's even worse than people have realized, and people realized it's really bad."
Ammori said that given the "echo chamber" nature of the FCC, no one should be surprised by the ultimate aim of Wheeler's proposal.
"The Federal Communications Commission is the kind of place where the former chairman is now the head lobbyist of the cable industry, a guy named Michael Powell," Ammori said. "The former head lobbyist of the Wireless Association and the Cable Association is Tom Wheeler, who's now chairman. A former commissioner is now the head of the Wireless Association and was previously a lobbyist at Comcast, and so you just have this revolving door.
"I really believe the FCC just doesn't talk to normal people who use the Internet," Ammori said.
"When the chairman's proposal leaked, there was massive backlash across the entire country, around the world, and the FCC was shocked because they'd only heard from cable and phone companies and from some of the biggest Internet companies. They thought that people would just kind of move along because they're in this bubble."
If the proposal is allowed to go through, Ammori says, Internet consumers should direct blame at Obama, who vowed not to allow this very thing to happen during his 2007 campaign.
"President Obama promised that he would ensure net neutrality, that there would be no fast lanes," he said, "His chairman [would be] embarrassing the president and all the people who care about the Internet because he'd be breaking that promise, in addition to . . . undermining the trust of the American public [by] the fact that he's a former lobbyist for these organizations."
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