U.S. Sen. Al Franken slammed a Federal Communications Commission decision to forge ahead with plans to overhaul net neutrality and allow Internet providers to charge websites for faster service.

Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal for Internet “fast lanes,” could allow Internet service providers to charge Web sites for higher-quality delivery of their content to consumers.

The proposal has generated backlash, particularly among groups that say the agency is abandoning “net neutrality” principle, which says that all content should be treated equally online. Allowing the “fast lanes” would end the equal treatment of traffic on the Internet, opponents of the FCC plan say.

“Today’s vote could spell the beginning of the end of the Internet as we know it, plain and simple,” Franken said in a statement.

The Federal Communications Commission is moving to write new rules in response to a federal appeals court ruling in January that struck down previous rules.

Democrats on Capitol Hill, tech companies and public interest groups have pushed back, worrying that new plans would create a tiered Internet, where corporations could afford to access consumers while others would end up stuck in the “slow lane.”

“Because of net neutrality, the Internet has been a tremendous platform for innovation and connectivity,” Franken said. “But the FCC has taken a woefully misguided step toward handing the Internet over to big corporations who can pay boatloads of money for preferential treatment. Anyone who values a free and open Internet should be deeply troubled by the FCC’s vote.”

Others members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation have also railed against the ruling.

In a letter to Wheeler led U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and signed by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, lawmakers warned that, “Without strong protections, the Internet could devolve into a closed platform in which those who pay the most can overwhelm other views and ideas.”

CPC Net Neutrality Letter 2014

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