Google, Verizon Unveil Net Neutrality Proposal

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Google and Verizon unveiled their own proposed version of net neutrality that leaves wired Internet connections alone, but gives wireless companies the authority to control the content that’s delivered to their customers.

The announcement comes only days after rumors that Google and Verizon were working on their own net neutrality deal that steps around the FCC’s own proposals.

According to the two companies, they negotiated the proposal outside of the FCC’s official discussions with Internet service providers to help push the talks forward.

“This new nondiscrimination principle includes a presumption against prioritization of Internet traffic — including paid prioritization,” Google and Verizon said in a joint statement. “So, in addition to not blocking or degrading of Internet content and applications, wireline broadband providers also could not favor particular Internet traffic over other traffic.”

The proposed rules would prohibit service providers from throttling or favoring any content on their traditional wired systems, but would leave wireless Internet providers, like Verizon, free to decide what traffic gets through to customers and how quickly it moves through the network.

Just how Internet traffic is being manipulated would require transparency, so — at least in theory — it would be very clear what information is given priority, and what is being throttled, delayed or blocked.

The two companies also go on to define the FCC’s role and authority in enforcing net neutrality. “Our proposal spells out the FCC’s role and authority in the broadband space,” they said. “In addition to creating enforceable consumer protection and nondiscrimination standards that go beyond the FCC’s preexisting consumer safeguards, the proposal also provides for a new enforcement mechanism for the FCC to use.”

While the proposal would give the FCC power to review net neutrality complaints after the involved parties went through non-government grievance processes, it wouldn’t have the authority to establish rules — in essence, giving the FCC little more that arbitration authority in net neutrality cases.

Despite the positive spin Google and Verizon are offering for their proposal, not everyone is excited about the prospect of a partially throttled Internet. The SavetheInternet.com Coalition, an organization that supports prohibiting companies from favoring certain Internet services and data, sees the proposal as a serious problem.

“The Google-Verizon pact isn’t just as bad as we feared — it’s much worse. They are attacking the Internet while claiming to preserve it,” the coalition said.

According to the organization, the proposal leaves the door open for companies to control Internet traffic on wireless and fiber networks while leaving the wired networks they most likely won’t invest in untouched.

“It would open the door to outright blocking of applications, just as Comcast did with BitTorrent, or the blocking of content, just as Verizon did with text messages from NARAL Pro-choice America,” the group said. “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.”

Google and Verizon, however, don’t think the proposal is as dismal as SavetheInternet.com suggests. “Ultimately, we think this proposal provides the certainty that allows both web startups to bring their novel ideas to users, and broadband providers to invest in their networks,” the two companies said.

So far, the proposal involves only the two companies. No other Internet providers have signed on, nor has the FCC agreed to implement the proposal.

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4 Comments

Lee Dronick

Couple that deal with the iPhone on Verizon and we have a triumvirate to rival the 2nd one.

brett_x

Quick thought here: Isn’t the internet’s future ultimately going to be in the wireless domain… not wired… which is what this agreement is in regards to? I mean.. we could make any sort of agreement on dial up not being restricted. But it wouldn’t matter much, would it?

John Dingler, artist

Oh my! This is rich: “... two companies also go on to define the FCC?s role and authority….” They, in a closed door meeting, and not the people in an open meeting, will define what the role of the people’s FCC is. How very nice of them and, only the two companies too. How considerate and simplified this all is.

Two sh*the?d companies.

I already moved my search from Google search to IxQuick search, and from the MS Yahoo mail to Gmail. Time to migrate one more time away from Gmail too. And I used to like Google even during its China scandal. No more.

Nemo

Google and Verizon arrogantly arrogate to themselves the authority to regulate the wired and wireless Internet, which authority belongs exclusively to the FCC and the Congress, at least in theory. 

The law passed by Congress provides that, depending on how the FCC classifies a medium of interstate communication, it, the FCC, has varying degrees of authority to regulate that a means of interstate communication.  After, I believe, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that, as presently classified, the FCC could not impose on the Internet its proposed Net Neutrality regulations, the Court dicta implies that, were the FCC to reclassify the Internet, as means of communication like the POTS , it would have the power to regulate the Internet, and that reclassification only requires a majority vote of the FCC’s Commissioners.  Presently, it appears that a majority of Commissioners would vote to reclassify the Internet as a mean of communication.

However, there is a fly in ointment.  Though the FCC and the elected members of Congress and not Verizon and Google have the legal authority to regulated the Internet, the reality is that major companies, such as Google and Verizon, have the Congress in their back pockets.  Verizon’s spending on lobbying is among the greatest and Google is fast catching up.  The moment that the FCC indicated that it would reclassify the Internet so that it could regulate it to prevent the cable companies (Cox, Time Warner, et al) and the telecoms (Verizon, AT&T, et al), Congress, at the behest of its patrons at the cable companies and telecoms, indicated that it would curb the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet for the benefit of the people, that is, to prevent monopolies and excessive cable-TV like pricing of content on the Internet, particularly the wireless Internet.

Google and Verizon’s apparent compromise of giving ground on the wired Internet is for suckers, as Google, Verizon, and their ilk know that the future of the Internet is the wireless Internet.  The only force that can stop the telecoms and cable companies from getting their way with the Internet is US.  We have to support the FCC against Congress, but I fear that this issue of Net Neutrality is far too arcane an issue to win the support from the public that is needed to defeat the telecoms and cable companies.

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