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August 9, 2010

Verizon-Google Legislative Framework for Net Neutrality: Who Wins?

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Why don’t we just hand over the government to Google already? They know what they’re doing when it comes to the whole Interwebz thingy. They’re probably no more motivated by power and money than our politicians. And they work under that whole “do no evil” mantra. They run our daily lives anyway.

Sarcasm aside, that’s pretty much what Google is getting into. The Verizon-Google legislative framework proposal is a bold assertion that the tech and ISP giants want to help lead the American people to a more open and accessible Internet future.

cat and bug with caption

Basically, Google and Verizon have outlined a framework for enforceable Net Neutrality. The simplified version is up on the Google Public Policy Blog, though it’s still a little complicated for Monday-brain, so in short:

  • It assigns the FCC as the enforcement agency and authority in the broadband space.
  • It requires nondiscrimination and transparency and prohibits prioritization of Internet traffic by wireline broadband providers.
  • It distinguishes broadband between wireline and wireless, allowing more flexible standards for wireless broadband due to the still developing marketplace. Namely, wireless would be required to provide consumer transparency, though would not be held to nondiscrimination requirements.
  • It forecasts online services outside of the public Internet that have not yet been developed.
  • And finally, it deploys broadband to areas where it is not yet available.

All the above are great guidelines for government to figure out how to handle this whole growing Internet thing. They seem to be logical, helpful ways to structure legislation and enforcement as the Internet continues to evolve. I just wonder if there’s any precedent for this kind of unsolicited recommendation to government to do its job better. Legal types, feel free to chime in.

I asked Susan if she knew of any precedent, and her response was that lobbyists do this kind of thing all the time. Yet, when lobbyists are trying to get something through the legislature, it’s done behind closed doors and is obviously done with their organization’s best interests in mind.

In this case, Google and Verizon are announcing their proposal publically, though in a media conference call, Roger Cheng of the Dow Jones raised questions about how transparent the negotiations around the announcement really were. It is also being positioned, rather convincingly, as a proposal in the best interests of the American people and a free Internet. Although, Google may be interested in maintaining the status quo considering it’s sitting pretty in the unthrottled Web of today.

Whatever the behind-the-scenes motivation, I feel the Net Neutrality proposal as it stands would certainly improve Internet access across the country, would settle the debate for paid prioritization of Internet traffic once and for all, and would make it all enforceable by a governing body.

But what do I know? I need some smarter people weigh in. Do you think this version of Net Neutrality is really a win for America? Are Google and Verizon’s hidden motivations important in this conversation? Will the government actually consider this proposal? What do you think happens next?





5 responses to “Verizon-Google Legislative Framework for Net Neutrality: Who Wins?”

  1. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Okay, I’m finally starting to see some critical thinking on the topic being published.

    http://www.salon.com/technology/dan_gillmor/2010/08/09/google_verizon_deal

    But the proposal went further. It would promote the expansion of new services, not part of the Internet as we know it now, that would go beyond anything we have today. These new services, if Congress and regulators enacted the companies’ proposal, could not be designed to be end runs around net neutrality; they would have to be genuinely new.

    But here’s the rub: You should not trust Verizon or other carriers, or Google for that matter, to follow through in ways that are truly in the interest of the kind of open networks the nation needs. Throughout the conference call, we kept hearing references to the “public Internet” — an expression that leads inescapably to something else.

    [...]

    The other big news in today’s announcement was Google’s clear retreat on network neutrality when it comes to wireless networks. As Susan Crawford, professor at Cardozo Law School and an expert on all things Internet, explains: “That’s a huge hole, given the growing popularity of wireless services and the recent suggestion by the Commission that we may not have a competitive wireless marketplace.”

  2. ghd uk writes:

    You should not trust Verizon or other carriers, or Google for that matter, to follow through in ways that are truly in the interest of the kind of open networks the nation needs.

  3. Harold Sharpe writes:

    I think the time has come for us all to consider what power the people have.
    It is time to make a stand.
    Consider this,…
    What if everyone who believed the net neutrality is paramount, and on September 1st 2010, made a stand.
    All of them dropped verizon phone, verizon wireless, verizon fios and verizon fios tv.
    What if all of the people who believe this is important, did a similar thing to google? Stopped using google for anything. No Searches, no email, no google voice, no google maps, no buzz etc?
    Do you think they would take notice?
    Not just for a day, but a huge slap in their face. No more google , no more verizon ever. If the people take a stand. the companies will surely fail quickly.
    While I would not want to see companies fail, I would prefer they live up to their word. When they don’t live up to their word, and they think they are bigger than life, it is time to take them down a notch.
    Verizon as a company can be wiped off the map in mere months if just 40% of the people canceled their accounts.
    Google may take a bit longer. Keep in mind, the share holders would tell google what to do if they noticed a difference.
    If other companies saw verizon fail then sprint and att would not attempt such an idiotic idea.
    I will be leaving everything google and everything verizon on September 1st 2010.
    Please join me.
    Make a stand!
    On September 1st, 2010, stop using Google for anything. Cancel your Verizon accounts.
    Start now to set everything up to work around.

    I will cut all their services on September 1st 2010.
    Instead of verizon wireless I will use sprint.
    Instead of verizon phone services I will use vonage.
    Instead of verizon fios internet I will use time warner cable.
    Instead of Fios TV I will use time warner Cable.

    Instead of google maps I will use Bing.
    Instead of google search I will use bing search.
    Instead of google gmail I will use windows live or live.com

    On September 1st, 2010 I will remove all things google or verizon from my cell phones and computer.

    I will not come back to Verizon as I believe they overstepped their bounds.
    I will not come back to google as I believe with this mistake they should fail.

    Good Bye Verizon
    Good Bye Google.

    You signed my cancellation when you ended, or tried to end, net neutrality.

    Please join me and make a stand on September 1st 2010 and end google and verizon instead of net neutrality.

  4. Man Ray writes:

    Net Neutrality, what a lovely notion. Unfortunately, once Google favors one carrier, this notion is thrown out the door. It’s certainly unbelievable that they’d place net neutrality for landlines, but for wireless it would be a different story.

    @ghd uk
    did you just copy paste your post from Virginia’s?

  5. Man Ray writes:

    Sites like this are now popping up all across the web.
    http://googledontbeevil.com/sign/



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