I’ve mentioned the idea of Net Neutrality a few times. It’s a simple, yet nuanced idea, and basically means that companies providing Internet access shouldn’t have any say in what traffic is important.
And that ship, as they say, has now sailed.
Yesterday, Google and Verizon announced an agreement under which Verizon won’t control what Internet traffic gets priority over other traffic . . . “unless it’s in the consumer’s best interest”.
Read that again.
Google, a company that can issue edicts based solely on their size and reach, and Verizon, a telecommunications giant that can do the same except when governmental agencies and lawmaking bodies tell them not to, have agreed to prioritize traffic, but only when it’s good for us.
Thank goodness we have Google and Verizon to protect us.
Tongue now removed from cheek, let’s be clear: Neither Google nor Verizon have any interest in protecting consumers. This is about taking control of a situation preemptively; the FCC has threatened to re-regulate data, and when that happens there will be years if not decades of litigation. Rather than wait for that event, Google and Verizon have simply gotten a jump-start.
And once the deals and operating parameters are established, a silly little body like the FCC isn’t going to stand in the way of Google and Verizon continuing to do business “as they have been”.
By the way: the broad parameters of the deal also specify that wireless data is going to be handled differently than data delivered over permanent lines. Which is great awful, because that real-world business change for the consumer isn’t really a business change for Google or Verizon.
But by pretending it is, they can obfuscate this issue even further.
UPDATE: less than a day later, Verizon and Google have both denied this story. Uh-huh. Let’s go back in time about 10 months to when AT&T, a company very much like Verizon, accused Google of being against net neutrality. And with good cause. Now Google’s taking the high road? OK, I believe them 😉 !
Oh, and by the way: the FCC has called off Net Neutrality talks because they couldn’t reach consensus with the involved parties. Maybe because the involved parties are doing this?