The Federal Communication Commission's vote today to allow so-called Internet fast lanes is an insult to the American entrepreneurial community and should be vehemently opposed by consumers and business leaders.
By a 3-2 vote along Democrat party lines, the FCC proposed new regulations for Net Neutrality that would stop Internet service providers from blocking the content of third parties. However, the rules leave open the possibility that some larger companies could pay ISPs to have their content delivered more quickly to consumers. This is not neutrality by any stretch of the imagination.
The Internet can be the ultimate level playing field, where companies of all sizes and war chests compete based on the quality of their content. Any kind of regulation runs the risk of putting some companies at a disadvantage, but the FCC's misguided approach is the worst kind of government interference, since it specifically favors the richest companies over the smallest. This is discrimination, pure and simple.
Imagine, for example, if these rules were in place in the late 1990s. Larger search engines like AltaVista, Yahoo and Dogpile could pay to provide search results more quickly. That would keep out smaller upstarts with better search algorithms, like, say, Google. It is no wonder companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, which developed because of the freedom of the web, have been so opposed to the proposed regulations.
These rules also are anti-consumer, since many of the added costs content providers pay to ISPs will no doubt be passed on to the end users.
The startup community, as well as prominent venture capitalists, have been right in opposing this ham-handed attempt at Net Neutrality. It is now time for broader opposition. The vote sets off a four-month comment period, during which time we urge all consumers and entrepreneurs to express their disappointment with the proposal and see that it is killed.
Barring that, the FCC should face another court challenge, similar to the 2010 ruling that scrapped its original Net Neutrality rules.
This is a difficult time for American innovators, with signs that entrepreneurial activity has slowed over the past six years under the weight of higher taxes and increased regulation. The FCC's decision only adds to this punishing burden and should be thrown out before final rules are promulgated.
Expect more on the subject from Entrepreneur as we fight this discriminatory policy.
Let's take this on together.