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

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jenn Ettinger, media coordinator, 850-766-1267

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

WASHINGTON - 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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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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