August 6, 2010
4:27 PM

CONTACT: Free Press

Jenn Ettinger, media coordinator, 850-766-1267

Company Claims to Support Open Internet but Remains Dodgy About Details of Deal with Verizon

WASHINGTON - August 6 - Internet giant Google is trying to deflect criticism of an agreement the company is reportedly striking with Verizon that could transform the way the open Internet works. On Thursday, the New York Times reported the deal would allow "Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content's creators are willing to pay for the privilege."

In response, a Google spokeswoman has claimed that the story was inaccurate and that "we have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic." The Times stands by its reporting.

Google's "denial," however, leaves out many important details about the policy agreement being negotiated with Verizon. While Google claims to "as committed as we always have been to an open Internet," the company is less forthcoming about their position on fundamental issues like "managed services" and how the Internet will be treated on wireless networks. Google has already entered into a lucrative partnership with Verizon to push its Android operating system for mobile phones.

Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner explains:

"Google's denial is just damage control, a sleight-of-hand designed to deflect the growing public outcry against a company that once pledged 'don't be evil.' Don't be misled: What's being reported about Google's deal with Verizon is an abandonment of Net Neutrality and the open Internet the company still claims to support.

"Notably, Google and Verizon are not denying press reports that they have agreed to a regulatory framework that will preclude any open Internet rules from being applied to wireless networks. This means not only will pay-for-priority be allowed, but also means that companies like Verizon will be permitted to outright block websites that compete with it or its partners like Google. Such an arrangement would create two Internets, just as millions and millions of people are using mobile networks to get online, and allow these big players to stifle innovators and future competitors.

"Furthermore, as the New York Times and others reported, Google and Verizon apparently have come to an agreement on what is known as ‘managed services,' or ‘specialized services.' This is a scheme where ISPs like Verizon will devote a ‘pipe' to special content that gets priority treatment, and they will charge a fortune to a select handful of companies for a spot in the fast lane.

"The two Internet giants may not have struck an agreement specifically about 'carriage of Google traffic.' But they protest too much, as they are in agreement on principles for a legislative framework that would allow ISPs to construct this 'private' Internet where companies like Google can pay for priority.

"This is a giant, troubling loophole. For the managed-service business model to work, the difference in quality between the open Internet and the closed, private 'managed services' pipe would have to be so great that content companies like Google would be willing to pay for this specialized treatment. This would stall investment in the open Internet -- freezing the public Internet in 2010 while the new high-speed lanes take a few big players into the future.

"Google and Verizon should stop mincing words and release the details of their proposal."


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