On Monday, Google and Verizon announced a “policy proposal” detailing a tiered payment structure for the internet. The basic crux of which states that the service provider (ie Verizon) should be allowed to stream data faster for content providers (ie YouTube, owned by Google) who pay for the privilege, thus separating this VIP traffic from the “public internet.” This seems like a direct challenge to every person, company or government entity who believes in Net Neutrality.
What is Net neutrality? Net neutrality is a concept that, simply put, no form of content on the internet should be valued more than any other. The purpose of this is to prevent companies from using monopolistic tactics to give their content preferential treatment over others.
Responses from the internet community have been flooding in. Stacey Higginbotham from GigaOM states that Google is essentially selling out tech companies, especially startups with tight budgets, for their own gain. Josh Silver, president of Free Press, has likened this deal to “BP and Halliburton ironing out the rules for offshore oil,” and a petition with over 300,000 signatures was delivered to Google’s DC office protesting the deal, asking them to stand by their motto and ‘don’t be evil.’
Is the backlash really justified? Engaget’s analysis of the policy proposal states that this is just a suggestion to the FCC, not a formal business deal between Verizon and Google (though Verizon has agreed to abide by the proposal until formal legislation takes place). Further breakdown also notes that Google stated it would never pay for priority for itself or any of its content, thus keeping service providers in check. Most significantly, the proposal notes this prioritization will not apply to wired networks, though it will to wireless broadband due the technology used on wireless networks. It should be noted that the last point may present a notable conflict of interest because of the significant number of Verizon Wireless devices that use Google’s Android OS. This also presents the most potential impact to companies like Pandora and Skype whose customer base have a significant presence on mobile devices.
What are your thoughts? Take a look at this PDF Summary of the Verizon/Google Legislative Framework Proposal and let me know what you think in the Comments!
Want to let Congress and the FCC know what you think? Send them a message!
Engadget – Google and Verizon’s net neutrality proposal explained
The Huffington Post – Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It
The Huffington Post – Google-Verizon Pact: It Gets Worse
The NY Times – Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers
freepress – 300,000 Call on Google: Don’t Sell Out the Open Internet