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