Google and Verizon Communications on Monday called on legislators to enact laws preventing Internet carriers from blocking websites or selectively delaying access to content common on the Internet today, while leaving the door open for private "specialized networks" down the line.
The proposal by the two companies, in the form of a suggested legislative framework, also said regulators should have authority to stop offenders by imposing penalties of up to $2 million on "bad actors."
In a significant exception, the principles wouldn't apply to Internet services provided over cellphone networks, in part, the companies said, because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly.
The policy framework marks a joint effort by the companies to move the discussion over "net neutrality" forward, as well as head off more rigorous restrictions by lawmakers or regulators.
While Verizon, one of the largest cellular and Internet providers, agreed to the basic principles, it left room to offer new "differentiated online services," ranging from health care to entertainment. Broadband providers could offer these for a fee—and they could prioritize traffic over these networks.
Critics said the proposal could result in the creation of private, closed broadband networks akin to cable television systems, as opposed to today's open Internet in which anyone can create a Web site or service.