Google and Verizon: Net Neutrality’s New Way Forward

Here’s my story on what the Google and Verizon “joint policy proposal” could mean for Hollywood.

While public interest groups pounced, and the Writers Guild of America East condemned the effort at reaching common ground, the two companies may have redefined the debate over net neutrality in Washington. Google had led the corporate effort for robust rules of the road, but now that it’s on record for a compromise, there will be pressure on the FCC to respond. If anything, this could force the FCC to take some sort of action on an issue that threatens to just kind of linger without some sort of resolution.

The only on-the-record comment from the FCC today came from Commissioner Michael J. Copps, who has been a strong advocate of net neutrality. “Some will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward. That’s one of its many problems. It is time to move a decision forward—a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations.”

Google and Verizon may have influence on the ultimate outcome, but I have doubts that the rhetoric will be tempered. If anything, the voices on both sides will grow louder, especially if it looks like genuine action is imminent. Today’s dire warnings — Huffington Post blared a headline “Worse Than Expected” — may be just a preview of what is to come.

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