While the plan will no doubt save casual phone users money, digital rights advocates find its approach problematic. The principle of net neutrality, the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote, “calls for all data that travels over the Internet to be treated equally.” Sprint’s new plan, by contrast, gives users unlimited access only to certain apps (unless users pay additional fees). Sprint did not return Newsweek’s request for an interview.
Net neutrality advocates argue providing users easier access to some sites than others gives large companies an edge over smaller competitors. In the case of the Virgin Mobile Custom Plan, the concern is that making it easier for users to access one of four social media sites favors those companies. Users looking for the most affordable plan will necessarily choose one of those four apps as their unlimited option. In that way, it will become their go-to social media app on their phone. “They have already pre-selected which services the customers can choose,” says Corynne McSherry, the Intellectual Property Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “What about what’s not on that list? The service you haven’t heard of just being developed in someone’s dorm room. One of the big worries is that the internet will stagnate.”