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Verizon, Google, Plot to Carve Up Internet

Verizon, Google, Plot to Carve Up Internet

You’ve got to hand it to Google and Verizon.  Just as the FCC abandons its own efforts to bring together major providers of broadband, wireless and content providers to discuss net neutrality guidelines, and after constant denials that the two were in talks, they put forth a set of proposed guidelines that will likely drive the conversation and the future of the Internet.  So why aren’t more people listening?

It’s a good question, especially since the proposals, in the absence of any political will by the FCC to push back against the industry, will likely find their way into law.  Here’s what the two communications giants propose:

The Creation of a Public and a Private Internet

First and foremost the joint policy agreement makes a distinction between the Internet consumers access on their computers and the Internet they access of a smart phone, PDA, or other mobile device.  Traditional Internet is considered “wireline” while mobile is “wireless”.  This becomes an important distinction.  Wireline is considered “public” Internet and wireless, “private”.

For wireline broadband the companies call for a full commitment to Internet openness and freedom.  They called on the FCC to continue its policy of mandating that consumers have access to all legal content on the Internet and have the freedom to use whatever applications, services, and devices they choose.  Furthermore, the companies called on the FCC to create a new and enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices, meaning that for the first time wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in any way that caused harm to users or competition.  Sounds pretty good so far.  But wait.  It’s not.

For wireless broadband the two providers suggest extending the current FCC guidelines regarding transparency.  Providers of this private Internet, however, would be free to discriminate on content meaning that consumers would likely face a paid prioritization of content for certain services, similar in some ways to the current tiered content model offered by traditional cable providers.

Future Services Do Not Fall Into the Public Space

With a two-tiered structure firmly established by these proposals, Verizon and Google go one step further and suggest that broadband providers be allowed to develop and offer differentiated online services free from the shackles of the public Internet.  While the proposal does not specifically state this, the obvious effect of this “innovation” clause is to allow telecom the freedom to fund content that will not be subject to net neutrality rules.  Such a proposal is technology’s version of separate but equal and will ultimately consolidate, not encourage, technological innovation and growth.

The Fox Guards The Henhouse

In a display of hubris usually reserved for the insurance or pharmaceutical industries, Verizon and Google go on to propose the limits of the FCC’s reach.  Spun as a helpful resolution to the confusion surrounding the FCC’s authority to regulate broadband in the wake of the Comcast decision, Google and Verizon offer to spell out the FCC’s role and authority in the broadband space.  Thanks, fellas.  Really helpful.

So what do these two commercial giants suggest as the limits of FCC reach and authority?  Why, that just depends.  They’d like the FCC to enforce the openness policies on a case-by-case basis, using a complaint-driven process.  The FCC is a creature of administrative law, charged by statute to regulate private industry.  The fact that private industry is so comfortable as to suggest the scope of that authority, rather than Congress, speaks volumes to just how anti-regulation our culture has become.

Sen. Al Franken is absolutely correct when he said that net neutrality is the single most important First Amendment issue of our time.  Technological innovation has made democratic participation more possible and more transparent, two developments that challenge the very power base of large, consolidated telecommunications companies.  They cannot be allowed to set the terms of their own regulation, but without any demand from the public that is exactly what is going to happen.  Sign the Care2 Petition and let the FCC know it is not up to Google and Verizon to dictate the future of the Internet.

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photo courtesy of MysteryBee via Flickr

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57 comments

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8:06AM PDT on Aug 16, 2010

Love your comment Cef V. The corporations truly are creating a capitalist aristocracy in which the rest of us are merely pawns in their lust for gain and the power it gives them. I say 'power to the people' lets roll.

5:22AM PDT on Aug 15, 2010

Hmmmm....it's funny how multi-million corporations always have to try to change something that always works so well...mainly for their own monetary gain...

5:25PM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

Greed rears its ugly head again.

5:33AM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

The internet is an expression of freedom.

5:10AM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

Chrystle A. Ditto, have had an ongoing feud with them since February. Didn't have a cell phone only wireless internet. They charged me $389. in over use and lost a $143. payment. Very disturbing they have hooked up with Google, now must consider the value of Google. No you can't talk to a person. Send a complaint to the FCC and state public service commission. I got the $389, dropped from my bill. Requested a detailed statement, apparently they are not capable of sending one. They cut me off ... Hooray! This action they are trying to take is all about greed. Verizon sucks!

10:32PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

I wonder if Google and Verizon have any concept of the hacker response their merger will create if it's successful?

Hackers at the best of times have a low tolerance for "established authority" but trying to take away the freedom private citizens currently have on the internet hackers will very likely take it as a challenge/"call to arms" to wreck damage upon them, and feel justified doing it. (and likely have the support of millions of regular people)

This combined with the impending large scale boycott of Verizon and Google (provided their business deal succeeds) will likely cost both companies an untold fortune.

10:10PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

Only the users have the right to establish the future of the Internet in order to keep it free and available for (almost) everyone.

The fact that corporations want to regulate it doesn't come from the piracy affair or because they want to make Internet "safe for children", if that would be the case many media giants would be agonizing by now and the cyber-Gestapo would be hunting pedophiles instead of bloggers.

It's just that they don't feel they are making enough money with our information and communications and that anything that escapes the grasp of their totalitarian claw is unlawful, evil and needs to be controlled.

As I see it, Internet is no longer only a technology but a cyberorganism composed by many minds that join to create a freedom embracing space where no boundaries exist for those who want to talk and be heard, or rather write and be read.

If corporations get a hold of it we may be entering into the new Middle Ages, and if that happens may Saint Google and the Corporative Holy Ghost have mercy on our minds.

.C.

10:08PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

There is no way this is right. This is discrimination on the internet. Everyone should have acess to whatever they want on the internet. There should not be two tiers, one for business and one for private, with business having full access and private not. Private may have to pay for access to some features on the "Net" that they never had to before, that is discrimination. Once you pay your carrier fee you should have access to anything you want.

8:24PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

I'm not sure I'm getting this right. So, they make air or micro waves private? Can I charge them for 'their' waves going in one ear, through my private brain and out the other, eh? No holes, please!

8:08PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

Greed! I sent the petition to all my friends and relatives form them to look at and I hope they sign.

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