On Monday, Google backed away from its long-held push for pure "net neutrality
" in a joint press release
coauthored by Verizon. The two companies proposed a new framework
detailing how Internet providers should treat their customers. In some
cases (e.g. wireless Internet networks), Verizon and Google want to
allow Internet providers to favor some websites and applications over
others. The companies' CEOs promoted
their new plan in the Washington Post today. However, a number of
technology and media observers think it's a terrible idea. Here's
- Dispute Resolution The Google-Verizon press
release proposes that Internet providers should not be able to
discriminate against different websites or applications (like having Fox New load faster than Daily Kos).
But what if Comcast or another Internet company breaks the rules?
According to the release, "Parties would be encouraged to use
nongovernmental dispute resolution processes established by independent,
widely-recognized Internet community governance initiatives and the FCC
would be directed to give appropriate deference to decisions or
advisory opinions of such groups." To Matthew Lasar
at Ars Technica, this setup would give unprecedented power to the
largest telecom and Internet companies. "In other words," Lasar writes.
"Some kind of organization dominated by Google and Verizon would decide
what constitutes 'meaningful harm.' ...Since the proposal forbids the
FCC from making any rules, we fear that the complaint will go to Verizon
and Google and the rest of the winners circle, who will decide what
these exemptible services will be, then give the Commission its marching
- Wireless Networks The Google-Verizon press
release stipulates that wireless Internet carriers shouldn't be burdened
with the kind of net neutrality rules that may be imposed on wireline
providers. In a joint press release, a number of progressive groups
including MoveOn.org and Credo Action
protested, saying "They are promising Net Neutrality only for a certain
part of the Internet, one that they’ll likely stop investing in. But
they are also paving the way for a new 'Internet' via fiber and wireless
phones where Net Neutrality will not apply and corporations can pick
and choose which sites people can easily view on their phones or any
other Internet device using these networks. It would open the door to
outright blocking of applications... It would divide the information
superhighway, creating new private fast lanes for the big players while
leaving the little guy stranded on a winding dirt road."
- The Powerful Are Writing the Rules, observes Alexis Madrigal
at The Atlantic: "What I'm left wondering is whether this kind of
proposal -- which exudes the sickly sweet smell of political
horsetrading -- is what's needed to break the net neutrality stalemate."
Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine agrees: "The internet is ours, not yours, Verizon and Google. This is why we need our Bill of Rights in Cyberspace... it is up to us
to create our own principles so we can point corporations and
government at them. Otherwise, they will take over our land without us
at the table."
- Creates a First-Class and Second-Class Internet, writes Om Malik
at Gigaom: "The temptation to accept this compromise as good for
everyone may force a version of network neutrality that leaves mobile,
one of the fastest areas of innovation on the web, out of the new rules.
It also enables an alternative version of the public Internet that
could lead to the creation of a first-class and a second-class system of
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