In fact, it permits and encourages exactly what Obama warned against: broadband carriers acting as gatekeepers and charging Web sites a payola payment to reach customers through a "fast lane." Late last night Wheeler released a statement accusing the Wall Street Journal of being "flat-out wrong." Yet the Washington Post has confirmed, based on inside sources, that the new rule gives broadband providers "the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers … in a commercially reasonable matter." That's telecom-speak for payola payments, and a clear violation of Obama's promise.
This is what one might call a net-discrimination rule, and, if enacted, it will profoundly change the Internet as a platform for free speech and small-scale innovation. It threatens to make the Internet just like everything else in American society: unequal in a way that deeply threatens our long-term prosperity.
Read: "Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination." [The New Yorker]
Tim Wu is a professor at Columbia Law School and wrote "The Master Switch." He is a former senior advisor to the FCC and chairman of internet advocacy org Free Press, which is running a campaign to let the FCC know about public opinion on the proposed new rules. Let your voice be heard.
Previously on Boing Boing: "FCC planning new Internet rules that will gut Net Neutrality. Get ready to pay more for the stuff you love online."