(Also known as: Google Broke My Heart)
After my net neutrality 101 blog, I hope those kids from my college days are listening now. Why am I so worried?
When the New York Times posted this story last week, I think my heart really skipped a beat. I thought my worst nightmare was about to come true, and I really didn’t want to delete my Google account, get rid of my Android phone and get lost without my Google navigation.
The New York Times claimed that Google and Verizon were in talks about a business deal that may ultimately end net neutrality. A very scary thought until I remembered that the big corporations aren’t allowed to make their own rules and, I hope, not allowed reign over the free, open Internet. No, we leave it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate and provide guidelines for providers and users. The story claimed Google and Verizon were considering trafficking websites.
Both Google and Verizon denied the accusations about a business deal. Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg held a press conference to reveal, not a business deal, but a proposed policy for net neutrality. They say they want to keep wireline Internet a free, open Internet that no provider can control or traffic. They also offer ways that the FCC can enforce the guidelines, something that has not been done yet.
That sounds great, until you read on. Their big plan is to control the wireless aspect of the Internet, what most would consider the future of the Web. How many people regularly use the Web through a phone dial-up nowadays? Google and Verizon say wireless Internet use should not be under the strict FCC net neutrality guidelines because it’s just different and harder to regulate than wireline Internet. It doesn’t stop there. They also say they want first dibs to control new services and technology that may or may not become available in the future, like 3-D on the Web.
What does this all mean? The basic idea they’re supporting is a two-tiered Internet system. Wireline would be the free, open Internet, while the private sector would control use of faster wireless service through paid premium rates. Bigwig sites and companies will likely be shelling out big bucks to be a part of any new premium service, while the little guys are stuck in the slow lane, “public sector,” of this proposed tiered system. Does that sound neutral to you? Is Google making this move based on the success of their mobile operating system, Android? What is really up their sleeve and why should you care? I’ll try to answer some of those questions soon. For now, think about this. Are you team “Goorizon” or team FCC?