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Is Google About To Do Evil? And Why It Matters To Writers

When a Federal Appeals Court denied the FCC the power to enforce net neutrality, the scramble to find other ways to assure that certain, most likely corporate, interests couldn’t discriminate against some content. The issue really is if internet service providers can charge more for some content and less for other.

As wireless has developed, ATT and Verizon have come to control most of it. Google, of course, is Google – a dominant provider of content and a partner of Verizon through their Android mobile phone system.

The notion that Google may be selling out, saddens me. As I read through all sorts of documents a couple of conclusions about the Google-Verizon agreement:

  • Instead of allowing the FCC to set rules, the agreement calls for some non-governmental body to make the rules that would determine if there were harm caused by any ISP. In my opinion this is asking the fox to guard the hen house and the results are likely to be similar to the savings and loan crisis or the recent housing bubble when hedge funds were “overseeing” themselves. No thank you!
  • The agreement exempts wireless from this agreement. Since wireless is the obvious wave of the future this means, again in my opinion, deregulates where the net is headed and that will allow any kind of charging ATT & Verizon want to charge.

I for one don’t want to leave this kind of decision in corporate hands. It seems to me this creates two internets. I don’t know any reason except profit that wireless should be treated differently than wired. Here’s what Google says about the difference:

Sixth, we both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wireline world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly. In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement. (http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2010/08/joint-policy-proposal-for-open-internet.html)

I don’t buy it!

So here’s what I’m doing:

  • Calling my US Representatives (Congress.org allows you to enter your zip code and find out how to do this.) I’ve also emailed the White House.
  • I signed up for the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s newsletter – as I post this they haven’t spoken out about this issue, but I suspect they will.

Why do I think this is an important issue for writers? The reasons are many, but the most significant I think is that as other outlets, magazines, newspapers, book publishers, have been reduced the ‘net has become not only a reliable place to get news if we learn to sort through the dreck, and a place where our writing can be offered to the public.

What do you think?

(And yes, I do see the irony of Google ads in this article and on this site. I’m thinking that one through.)


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