By MICHAEL BODENSTEIN New York (CNN) — The New England Journal of Medicine and the New York Time both issued scathing criticisms Wednesday of the growing power of the online streaming service Netflix.
The Times editorial board wrote in an editorial that Netflix is “a global power,” but its use of “disgraceful tactics” and “false narratives” in its battle with the Federal Communications Commission “threatens to undercut the very credibility of the Internet.”
The editorial board’s critique of Netflix follows a week of protests by the media industry, a vocal backlash by some celebrities, and a call by lawmakers to strip the FCC of its powers over the industry.
New York state Sen. Scott Weiner, a Democrat, told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that he was worried that Netflix would have the power to regulate the Internet in ways that are contrary to the principles of net neutrality.
“What they’re doing is creating a monopoly on the Internet and that monopoly is going to have the potential to harm innovation, to restrict access, to create barriers to entry and to harm competition,” Weiner said.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of the same thing with other big companies, like Google and Facebook, where they’ve created a monopolistic environment that’s very harmful to consumers.”
The Times’ editorial board noted that the FCC’s proposed rules for net neutrality would apply to all forms of Internet traffic, including Internet video, but it called the agency’s proposed regulations “misguided” and an “attempt to regulate a private business without giving it equal protection under the law.”
The FCC’s proposal would prohibit Internet service providers from charging a “special” rate for the delivery of Internet content, but Netflix’s proposal does not address that issue.
Instead, the company argues that it’s merely charging for the right to deliver certain types of content.
In its filing with the FCC, Netflix said the proposed rules would “deregulate the Internet’s core function” of providing access to high-quality video content, and it also accused the FCC and Congress of “misunderstanding and failing to protect the Internet from the Internet giants” and the Internet itself.
“The Internet has grown and changed over the years, but the fundamental function of the internet remains unchanged, the Internet is a network, and we have always used the Internet to make sure it’s the best network it can be,” the company said.
It went on to note that the proposed net neutrality rules could be applied to “all types of Internet service, including video, email, social networking, mobile devices, Internet search, mobile payments, digital content delivery networks, online shopping and more.”
In its editorial, the Times criticized the FCC for failing to adequately address the impact of its proposed net-neutrality regulations on the internet, noting that “in its attempt to regulate, the FCC appears intent on ensuring that its regulations do not harm Internet consumers.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also sent a letter Wednesday to Chairman Julius Genachowski, urging the FCC to withdraw its proposed rules.
Schneiderman said the FCC is violating net neutrality and consumer protection laws by imposing unreasonable rules on Internet service.
“This proposal will hurt consumers, and this will undermine the integrity of the open Internet,” Schneiderman wrote.
“You must withdraw the proposal, and allow the public to weigh in on whether you should impose new rules on the open internet.”
The New Jersey-based New York attorney general said Schneiderman was calling for the FCC chairman to withdraw the rules, and the state’s top consumer-protection agency also urged the agency to withdraw them.
New Jersey’s attorney general also urged Schneiderman to publicly address the issue and to call the FCC on behalf of the public.
“These proposed regulations would effectively kill the Internet,” said Attorney General Stephen Sweeney.
“If you do not act, these rules will become law.”
He said that the government would be able to enforce the FCC rules against companies that violate them, but that it would be very difficult to do so against Netflix, which is one of the most-visited websites on the web.
“Even if we can’t hold a company accountable for its actions, we can hold a service accountable for not following the rules,” Sweeney said.
Schneidermen also said that if the FCC does not act soon, it will likely result in a “coronavirus of the digital economy.”
Schneiderman’s letter to Chairman Genachowsk comes after the FCC last week announced it would take action to dismantle net neutrality, including to roll back the 2015 FCC rule that requires Internet service companies to treat all online content equally.
New net neutrality regulations require that all online video be treated equally and that Internet service should not be allowed to slow down or discriminate against certain content providers.
Netflix’s net neutrality proposal would exempt its video content from the FCC regulation and also exempt its own video from those regulations.
The FCC has also proposed to require Internet service provider Comcast and Charter to obtain consumer consent