Google Defends its New Net Neutrality Stance

Google’s proposed Internet neutrality rules, co-developed with Verizon, has generally been received negatively, so now the Internet search giant has gone on the defensive. The company went so far as to publish a Web page defending its position and called several of the comments against the proposal myths.

The proposal Google and Verizon crafted outside of the FCC’s negotiations with service providers builds a framework where data traveling over wired Internet connections moves with few restrictions, but data on wireless connections can be throttled and controlled however the carrier pleases. In other words, the proposal appears to offer net neutrality in name only.

Google, however, claims that isn’t the case. “In our proposal, we agreed that the best first step is for wireless providers to be fully transparent with users about how network traffic is managed to avoid congestion, or prioritized for certain applications and content,” Google’s Telecom and Media Counsel, Richard Whitt said.

The company also claims the proposal won’t create a scenario where providers cut out services that compete with their offerings, or slow down traffic that doesn’t benefit them.

“Another aspect of the joint proposal would allow broadband providers to offer certain specialized services to customers, services which are not part of the Internet,” Mr. Whitt said. “So, for example, broadband providers could offer a special gaming channel, or a more secure banking service, or a home health monitoring capability — so long as such offerings are separate and apart from the public Internet.”

According to the Google and Verizon guidelines, carriers would need to offer services that are “distinguishable in purpose and scope” from regular Internet access before throttling back other content in favor of their own. Companies would also have to offer transparency so users would know what content is being favored and what is being held back or slowed down.

Google also sees the proposal as a step forward for an open and free Internet, not a hinderance. The company noted that the proposal would protect wired Internet connections from prioritized data, and would block discriminating against wired Internet traffic in ways that could harm users or competition. It doesn’t, however, prevent companies from slowing some Internet traffic, nor does it protect wireless Internet connections from data discrimination.

Google also claims it isn’t “selling out.” “Given political realities, [net neutrality] has been intractable in Washington for several years now. At this time there are no enforceable protections.” Mr. Whitt said. “With that in mind, we decided to partner with a major broadband provider on the best policy solution we could devise together.”