So Google and Verizon went public Monday with their "policy framework" -- better known as the pact to end the Internet as we know it.
But cut through the platitudes the two companies (Googizon, anyone?)
offered on Monday's press call, and you'll find this deal is even worse
The proposal is one massive loophole that sets the stage for the corporate takeover of the Internet.
Real Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers
can't discriminate between different kinds of online content and
applications. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and
Internet technologies. It's what makes sure the next Google, out there
in a garage somewhere, has just as good a chance as any giant corporate
behemoth to find its audience and thrive online.
What Google and Verizon are proposing is fake Net Neutrality. You can read their framework for yourself here or go here to
see Google twisting itself in knots about this suddenly "thorny issue."
But here are the basics of what the two companies are proposing:
- Under their proposal, there would be no Net Neutrality on wireless
networks -- meaning anything goes, from blocking websites and
applications to pay-for-priority treatment.
- Their proposed standard for "non-discrimination" on wired networks
is so weak that actions like Comcast's widely denounced blocking of
BitTorrent would be allowed.
- The deal would let ISPs like Verizon -- instead of Internet users
like you -- decide which applications deserve the best quality of
service. That's not the way the Internet has ever worked, and it
threatens to close the door on tomorrow's innovative applications. (If
RealPlayer had been favored a few years ago, would we ever have gotten
- The deal would allow ISPs to effectively split the Internet into
"two pipes" -- one of which would be reserved for "managed services," a
pay-for-play platform for content and applications. This is the
proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane
reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the
cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.
- The pact proposes to turn the Federal Communications Commission
into a toothless watchdog, left fruitlessly chasing consumer complaints
but unable to make rules of its own. Instead, it would leave it up to
unaccountable (and almost surely industry-controlled) third parties to
decide what the rules should be.
If there's a silver lining in this whole fiasco it's that, last I
checked anyway, it wasn't up to Google and Verizon to write the rules.
That's why we have Congress and the FCC.
Certainly by now we should have learned -- from AIG, Massey Energy,
BP, you name it -- what happens when we let big companies regulate
themselves or hope they'll do the right thing.
We need the FCC -- with the backing of Congress and President Obama
-- to step and do the hard work of governing. That means restoring the
FCC's authority to protect Internet users and safeguarding real Net
Neutrality once and for all.
Such a move might not be popular on Wall Street or even in certain
corners of Silicon Valley, but it's the kind of leadership the public
needs right now.
If you haven't yet told the FCC why we need Net Neutrality, please do it now.
Craig Aaron is the managing director of Free Press,
the national, nonpartisan, nonprofit media reform group, where he leads
all program, public advocacy and communications work, including the SavetheInternet.com and SaveTheNews.org campaigns.