Google and Verizon want to limit net neutrality regulations for wireless Internet services in a joint proposal that has riled open Internet advocates.
The tech giants argued that because the mobile environment is "more competitive and changing rapidly," none of their proposed net neutrality principles would apply to wireless Internet service providers, though they should be required to disclose information about their services and network management practices.
Free Press, a nonprofit group working to reform the media, blasted the proposal, saying in a statement issued with several other advocacy groups that it was "much worse" than it had feared.
Free Press argues the plan laid out by Google and Verizon subverts FCC authority and promises net neutrality only for a certain part of the Web, paving the way for an Internet where net neutrality would not apply.
Advocacy group Public Knowledge issued similar concerns, saying in a statement that the plan would allow telcos to "carve up the Internet as they see fit, deciding who gets access to the Internet's fast lane while the rest of us are stuck in the slow lane."
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps issued a terse statement on the proposal, saying one of its "many problems" was the perception that it advances the discussion on net neutrality.
"It is time to move a decision forward – a decision to reassert FCC 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," Copps said.
The plan put forward by Google and Verizon would give the FCC authority to enforce its current wireline broadband principles on a case-by-case basis while establishing prohibitions against discriminatory practices, such as favoring some Internet traffic over other traffic.
The plan would also allow Internet service providers to offer "differentiated online services," a proposal that has caught the ire of net neutrality advocates.
Free Press senior program director Craig Aaron said it would allow companies like Verizon to decide which applications deserve the best quality of service and split the Internet into two pipes, one of which would be reserved for pay-for-play managed services.
"This is the proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the cyber equivalent of a winding dirt road," Aaron said.