The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to abandon net neutrality and allow telecoms companies to charge websites for access.
The FTC said in a report that, despite popular support for net neutrality, it was minded to let the market sort out the issue.
This means that the organisation will not stand in the way of companies using differential pricing to make sure that some websites can be viewed more quickly than others. The report also counsels against net neutrality legislation.
"This report recommends that policy makers proceed with caution in the evolving dynamic industry of broadband internet access, which is generally moving towards more, not less, competition," FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras wrote.
"In the absence of significant market failure, or demonstrated consumer harm, policy makers should be particularly hesitant to enact new regulation in this area."
The report has caused outrage in the online community. Many are worried that any abandonment of net neutrality will harm competition, since it will allow big companies to outspend start-ups.
"Mostly the FTC suggests ways that the telephone and cable companies could have new ways to make money from content and applications providers," said Art Brodsky, of internet advocacy group Public Knowledge.
"Or lower-income subscribers could be charged lower prices, subsidised by 'prioritization revenues' much as supported email services now provide free email accounts. Nowhere is there discussion of what the consumer gets out of the deal."
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