In the past few days, a lot of fear mongering was abounding from the New York Times to Internet hotspots stemming from discussions Google and Verizon were having together and how it might be the first death knell for net neutrality. On Thursday, Verizon posted a short reply on their Policy Blog to the New York Times story stating the speculation was incorrect. Today, both Verizon and Google have come forward through their respective blogs, Verizon’s Policy Blog and Google’s Public Policy Blog, to explain their Open Internet Policy proposal.
So while it seems like the old rumor mill, one-two punch that everybody was deceived and suddenly it was quite the opposite, we’ll need to read through the Verizon-Google Legislative Framework Proposal to be sure. The document is two pages and is summarized into nine sections. The proposal puts forward the following points:
- Broadband consumers should not be prevented by their Internet provider from sending or receiving legal content, running legal applications or services, and connecting legal devices that do not negatively impact the network.
- Legal content should not be discriminated against when travelling on the network. Prioritization would be inconsistent with discrimination but this point is open for further discussion.
- There should be enforceable transparency rules for both wired and wireless providers.
- Network managements inline with technical best practices should still be allowed.
- Allow broadband infrastructure to be a recipient of innovation by allowing providers to partner with different online services.
- Wireless is different than wired and these rules besides transparency would not be enforced with wireless carriers for the time being.
- The FCC would enforce these statutes of the proposal and could penalize a company up to $2 million.
- The FCC has the only authority over broadband Internet access but does not have authority over Internet applications, content, or services.
- Reform the Federal Universal Service Fund to focus on deploying broadband in areas of the US where it is not yet available.
This seems very promising thought it will be a matter of seeing it in practice to truly judge whether it works or not. The second point of being open to prioritization is a bit scary as it leaves the road open for essentially the same thing as discrimination. As an example, say Google paid Verizon to deliver its search results as fast as possible to all Verizon FiOS subscribers. Microsoft’s Bing service probably wouldn’t want this because its searches would be slower by comparison and as a result of Google searches on the network. Perhaps an ISP would also allow customers to have a say towards the prioritization as well, a customer could purchase prioritizing the packets of Google for an extra $10 per month.
At this point, I think everybody needs to read this document and think for themselves whether or not the policy proposed is an improvement or not. Do you have any thoughts on net neutrality or Google/Verizon’s proposal published today? Please share in the comments.