Net Neutrality VS. Google and Verizon. How Screwed Are We?
It’s been everywhere and everyone is reporting on Verizon and Google teaming up to put their self-interested spin on Net Neutrality and most people’s opinion is that the public is going to get totally screwed.
The first step toward understanding what they have in mind in their proposal is understanding what Net Neutrality is.
As I understand it and most of the stuff I’ve read agrees that the prime principle of Net Neutrality is that all internet traffic is treated the same and all providers must legally treat it that way. Sounds good. Most people probably assume this is how things are today.
That means traffic coming from Google, Yahoo, MSN, YouTube and every other site gets the same treatment. No one can buy fast lane treatment. No one can pay for serving up faster access to their content. It would be against the law for anyone to do that and there would probably be some sort of punishment for doing so.
That’s the idea but it comes with a nasty possibility:
The Government would be involved in it. When politicians are involved, corruption must follow. You’ve got every wack-job group that would love to put an end to open and easy access to everything from Catholicism to “filthy language” and to Porn (with a Capital P) out there that would be threatening, paying-off and lobbying their favorite crooked politician for excemptions for this and that to the laws… and getting them.
The EFF puts it a little nicer in their review of the proposal by Google and Verizon:
The worst case scenario would be that, in allowing the FCC to regulate the Internet, we open the door for big business, Hollywood and the indecency police to exert even more influence on the Net than they do now.
Back to the news at hand: what Google and Verizon have hashed together appears to be kinda like that… except for wireless internet users and things that some people might not like.
Both Google and Verizon have vehemently denied reports circulating last week that their plan was for them to join forces and offer prioritized speed for a price.
What they are saying their plan is now is to honor the spirit of Net Neutrality with the very specific exception of one or two things including Wireless Access.
Sounds okay, right? Just Wireless. Well, if all we ever do for the foreseeable future is hardwire plug into our internet access that sounds good but it’s not going to stay that way. 3G is wireless. 4G is wireless and WiMAX is on its way.
How many people have already done away with their land lines for cell phones? It’s not today to be thinking about and comparing these ideas to, it’s next year and the the two years after that.
The EFF stepped up and have done another great service for us and done an excellent review of Verizon and Google’s Net Neutrality Proposal. In it they hit the good points and the bad points of what it’s all about.
Good Point: Limited FCC Jurisdiction — (see above about governement involvement in anything)
Interesting Point: Standard-Setting Bodies
Not So Good Point: Reasonable Network management, Additional Online Services (‘reasonable network management… such as all the BitTorrent speed throttling that Comcast did or perhaps just limited people’s access speeds because they use ‘too much’ bandwidth)
Bad Point: “Lawful” Content and Wireless Exclusions – EFF calls this “FAIL”.
“Lawful” that means that anyone with a lawyer can threaten ISPs and access providers with ‘copyright’ infringement.
I’m not going to rehash the whole report here, if you’ve made it this far in this post you are obviously interested and hopefully concerned and I encourage you to check out the EFF report.
You can also check out my current favorite title for a story on this from Wired. Com:
Google appears to have already back-tracked on a number of things in this story and I’m sure it’s all FAR FROM OVER. I’m sure it will get more interesting before it’s all done and the checks are signed.
The thought that keeps coming back to me is to encourage all of you to do one thing: Donate to the EFF. They’re the ones who are keeping an eye on crap like this. They are the ones who fight for us.