A joint policy statement issued Monday by Google and Verizon was met with immediate criticism across the Internet. The seven-point plan outlines the companies' vision for an "open Internet." But commentators and net neutrality supporters are worried the plan would create a closed Internet that could impact how entertainment content (among other types of information) is distributed on networks.
Here's a quick recap of the statement:
-- Google and Verizon support an open Internet for wireline services, support the creation of new rules against discrimination and want to require both wireline and wireless services to be more transparent in the information available to their customers.
-- But the companies want broadband providers to be able to offer "differentiated online services" in addition to Internet access and video services. Whatever these new services are, they would be separate from Internet access services regulated by the FCC as well as separate from the rest of the Internet. Imagine a video or movie channel available only for a Verizon customer that was given network preference over other Internet traffic.
-- Here's the kicker: Wireless services would not be covered by these proposed rules because the public is better served by service providers' continued investment in those networks.
So what does it mean to leave managed services unregulated and subject to private negotiation? A blog post by Susan Crawford of Cardazo Law School has a helpful summary:
It means that Google and Verizon could decide what bits reach consumers more quickly; it means they'll be able to favor particular uses of Internet access for exclusive deals. It's the exception that swallows the rule, as lawyers like to say. It's prioritization using another label. There's a save in there that suggests that the "other service" has to be distinct in scope and purpose from Internet access (something cable would not have agreed to), but that's a long way from an enforceable standard.
Public Knowledge says "it sacrifices the future of the mobile wireless Internet as this platform becomes more central to the lives of all Americans."
Dan Gilmour at Salon warns the two companies' support for an "open Internet" is anything but. "You should not trust Verizon or other carriers, or Google for that matter, to follow through in ways that are truly in the interest of the kind of open networks the nation needs."
Google CEO Eric Schmidt wasn't daunted by critics' interpretation of the statement. "We love the Internet and we have no intention of doing anything other than the Internet," he said in a conference call with reporters.