Streaming video titan and net neutrality champion Netflix says it will be complicit in throttling content for wireless carriers.
The entertainment giant said on Thursday that it will compromise the quality of its streams at the behest of wireless carriers who place caps on user data intake.
"We believe restrictive data caps are bad for consumers and the internet in general, creating a dilemma for those who increasingly rely on their mobile devices for entertainment, work and more," Netflix said in announcing a move to promote restrictive data caps.
"So in an effort to protect our members from overage charges when they exceed mobile data caps, our default bitrate for viewing over mobile networks has been capped globally at 600 kilobits per second."
The move will help consumers who are on data plans that restrict usage totals. By degrading the stream quality, Netflix streams will have a smaller footprint and account for less data on wireless plans.
Netflix argues that the cap has not been an issue to consumers, arguing that many people don't care about getting lower quality video if it means less data counted towards their data limits.
The decision will also, however, come as a slap in the face to many who sided with Netflix in efforts to prevent carriers from throttling streaming media traffic.
"Failing to disclose this practice to consumers is bad enough, but Netflix's political hypocrisy is astounding," said Berin Szoka, president of advocacy group TechFreedom.
"It turns out Netflix was really saying 'net neutrality for thee, but not for me'."
Streaming services in particular have become a pain point in the debate over net neutrality, as carriers such as T-Mobile have offered to exempt streaming services from data caps, to the chagrin of net neutrality activists who argue that such services favor select providers at the expense of smaller sites whose content is still counted against data caps. ®