Verizon lobbyists on Capitol Hill are suddenly championing a new cause in their push to end net neutrality: Speedy Internet access for the disabled.
First revealed on Mother Jones, three sources at the nation's capital have brought up that the company is using the plight of disabled people to convince congressional lawmakers to end the push for a free and open Internet. They argue the need for a fast-laned internet is essential for certain special services used by disabled people.
Members of the American Association of People with Disabilities have chimed in on the matter. Mother Jones reported Mike Perriello, president and CEO of the AADP, said this was the "first time" he had heard "these specific talking points" about needing to end net neutrality to help people with disabilities. He agreed that some disabled people require a fast Internet connection to access technologies that help them communicate and go about their lives, but called the timing of Verizon's sudden concern for disabled people "convenient."
Some net neutrality advocates have formed their own opinion as well, calling the move "disingenuous." Verizon has failed to publicly announce a stance on net neutrality, but defended their move to Mother Jones as simply "not disingenuous."
The FCC has announced that regardless of whether a fast-lane Internet is implemented, special service sites for the disabled will in fact have priority Internet access lanes.
Back in 2009, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg warned of the possible setbacks in life-saving technologies if the ability to prioritize data were to be stripped away.
The war for net neutrality has many fronts. Recently, Netflix and Verizon duked it out over who pays the tab for Internet traffic to the video-streaming service. Backdoor deals have already been struck between Netflix and some of the bigger Internet service providers. While companies like Comcast have improved their connection to the site, Verizon has only diminished theirs, causing Netflix to flag Verizon's poor connection on their video loading screens.
Julian Reyes is a VR Producer for Fusion.