FCC proposes new net neutrality rules with 'fast lines' in the driver's seat

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
FCC Chairman Wheeler and dealer

The Federal Communications Commission has voted on new net neutrality rules that could reshape the internet with "fast lanes" for online services that can afford it.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal, which passed in a 3-2 vote along party lines, could give Netflix, YouTube and other sites "paid priority" access to internet customers.

Internet service providers would in turn charge these popular online services fees, even though they're already charging their subscribers to access the not-so-open internet.

It's a form of double dipping that is in violation of the original net neutrality rules that were deemed unenforceable earlier this year in the Verizon vs FCC case that favored ISPs.

Rules are meant to be broken

It should be noted that today's proposal doesn't outright say it favors setting up fast lanes. In fact, it's language politely asks if "paid prioritization arrangements, or 'fast lanes,' can be banned outright."

But the mere presence of such a controversial question and broadband's strong instance on the measure being enacted means that it is still very much on the table.

In the meantime, the internet is more threatened than ever, according to the FCC, which points out that "there are no rules that stop broadband providers from trying to limit internet openness."

Wheeler and his colleagues are seeking public comment on the proposal over the next 60 days and will hear responses 60 days after with the new rules, if agreed upon, ready later this year.

Matt Swider