Yesterday, Google and Verizon announced a joint policy proposal to regulate the internet. In short, they have called on FCC to assume control over the internet and regulate it to keep it “open”. Even though I am supportive of any proposal to keep the internet open, this pact between Google and Verizon is not only short sighted but also has the potential to kill innovation. With this pact, Google has lost any credibility to protect net neutrality.
There are many issues associated with this pact as highlighted by Electronic Frontier Foundation in this post. The first, and foremost, is the power it offers FCC in regulating the internet. If FCC is dominated by people sympathetic to certain powerful industries, the consumers will be at risk. If FCC is dominated by people sympathetic to social bigots, it will lead to the curtailment of freedom of expression.
Efforts to protect net neutrality that involve government regulation have always faced one fundamental obstacle: the substantial danger that the regulators will cause more harm than good for the Internet. 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.
Second, and more importantly, the call to exclude wireless from net neutrality regulations is ridiculous. As we move from a wired world to a wireless world, it is more important to keep wireless “clean” than anything else. This proposal is clearly anti-business and self serving.
In my opinion, this shows the true face of Google. When it was a newbie trying to make a mark in the marketplace, it was making right noises like Net Neutrality. It created an impression that they have the same DNA as EFF or ACLU in protecting the rights and freedoms of the users. Once they gained enough marketshare with Android and once they reached a certain point where being chummy with the telecom providers is in their best interests, they showed their real side. They realized that they can make more money with Android if they play by the telecom rules than by fighting them. They realized that they have lots to gain by the mobile market by aligning with the wireless providers and they cannot afford to make the money by antagonizing them. Such “self interests” lead Google towards their partnership with Verizon to create a regulatory system that will help both the parties in the long run while destroying numerous other startups and other technological innovations.
Fortunately, tech media did not get fooled by Google one more time. The majority of the reaction to Google-Verizon announcement was critical and the negative vibe is propagating through the social media sites. Geeks and other tech users, who are usually positive towards Google, are really upset and it is showing up in my twitter stream. There is definitely a backlash brewing and it has a potential to grow bigger making life miserable for Google in the long run. For example, some of the tweets in my Twitter timeline clearly points to how the issue could blow up.
Apple devices off wish list re: iPhone dev policies, now Google mocks net neutr. and I don’t love HP/Palm Must I pick lesser of three evils?
Hi @google, I know this won’t affect you at all, but I’m switching to Bing and getting off gmail. kthxbai
Google turned evil this week. Or, more accurately, they threw their principles in the trash to make a deal for profits. Sigh.
Google you disappoint me.
I guess these tweets explain what people feel about Google’s pact with Verizon. Only the naive will think that this is a passing phase and Google will do just fine. It is important to realize that Google owes much of its success to their “Don’t be evil” mantra and any deviation from this mantra will have a negative effect on Google’s brand and the trust users place on their brand. This is akin to the backlash some companies get when they unabashedly use open source to just gain the initial marketshare and then move on to a proprietary path to build on top of that initial success. I just hope that Google realizes the faith millions of users have on them to do what is also morally right than what is just right for their business alone. If not, it only takes a nudge to get users shift to Google’s competitors. It is worth remembering that the cost of shifting is almost zero in the space where Google is doing business.