Silicon Valley criticizes Google-Verizon accord
Some in Silicon Valley are responding to the Google-Verizon pact on net neutrality, and they aren’t pleased.
Facebook, a member of the Open Internet Coalition, said it doesn’t support the legislative proposal. Google is also a member of the coalition, and is facing criticism for what looks like a retreat from previous principles.
“Facebook continues to support principles of net neutrality for both landline and wireless networks,” said spokesman Andrew Noyes in a statement. “Preserving an open Internet that is accessible to innovators -- regardless of their size or wealth -- will promote a vibrant and competitive marketplace where consumers have ultimate control over the content and services delivered through their Internet connections.”
Amazon.com has recently said it can support co-location of servers, where content companies like it and Google pay more to be closer to their customers. This provides faster delivery of their content and services.
But it isn't for the idea of managed services – carving out parts of Verizon’s broadband pipe to give out to the highest bidder (for example, if streaming Netflix on FiOs, chargingn consumers for the better quality).
"We've long supported net neutrality and although we agree that network operators should be allowed to offer additional services, we are concerned that this proposal appears to condone services that could harm consumer Internet access," Amazon said in a statement.
Brad Burnham, a venture investor in firms Twitter, Foursquare and other Web startups, has said a lack of strong net neutrality rules leaves cop on the beat to allow companies such as his to thrive. Here's a video on him on Post Tech talking about he believes the FCC should go forward with broadband rules, despite opposition from carriers.
And in the New York Times Monday, the Union Square Ventures partner wrote about two main concerns with the Google-Verizon proposal. No rules for wireless, when "more and more Internet services are accessed wireless ... (provides) no assurance that consumers will be able to get to the applications and the content on their wireless devices. He said the threshold for what is unfair treatment of content on wireline networks is too low. "The access providers are prohibited from discriminating against specific applications providers only if it would cause “meaningful harm to competition or to users.” The network management provision provides broad latitude for Internet access providers to interfere with applications layer services.
Public interest groups and some academics have also criticized the deal.
Public Knowledge, a public interest group that advocates for equal access to media, said the agreement between Google and Verizon leaves the wireless industry unregulated and allows for priority paid services as described above, which would squash competition.
It also said the firms’ pact weakens the Federal Communications Commission, which could only be a watchdog of bad actors on a case-by-case basis, based on rules led by an industry-led advisory group. In other words, the FCC would follow cues from corporations.
“Combined with the proposal’s recommendation that the FCC have no rulemaking authority with respect to consumer protection and nondiscrimination, the agreement outsources the FCC’s powers and authorities to the very industries these rules are supposed to oversee,” said Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge
Some academics said the agreement appeared lopsided, favoring the positions of network carriers that have been loath to see new rules.
“The Verizon-Google proposal is a mix of 90 percent of Verizon's anti-net neutrality positions and only 10 percent Google's pro-net neutrality positions,” said Nicholas Economides, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“I believe that the FCC should protect consumers by adopting clear and strict network neutrality rules, as President Obama has repeatedly promised,” he said.
August 10, 2010; 12:11 PM ET
Categories: FCC , Facebook , Google , Net Neutrality , Verizon
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