Net Neutrality: New Deal or No More?

Google and Verizon are denying it, but there continues to be buzz that the former is about to sign a pact with the latter that will undercut net neutrality.

If they ever do strike a pact, they got a taste for what the fallout will look like. After the New York Times reported that Google was ready to pay Verizon for faster delivery of content, the alarms went off.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wrote that “our free speech rights are under assault.” The Writers Guild of America East released a statement in which its executive director, Lowell Patterson, said that the Internet was on its way to resembling TV and the movies, i.e. dominated by conglomerates. “We have seen the future, and it is exactly like the past.” Josh Silver of Free Press puts it doomsday terms: “the end of the Internet as you know it.”

Over the FCC, which is trying to establish legal footing so it can pass net neutrality rules, talks were called off between a number of stakeholders after weeks of speculation that a compromise was in the works. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) issued a statement in which he said that “Congressional stalemate is making a legislative solution look increasingly unlikely in the near term.”

Molly Rants of CNET News writes that the compromise may in net neutrality for wired services but not for wireless.

She reports on a remark made this week by Google’s Eric Schmidt, which despite the denials signal that something is afoot. Schmidt said at a conference this week: “We’re trying to find solutions that bridge between sort of the ‘hard-core Net neutrality or else’ view and the historic telecom view of no such agreement. I want to make sure that everybody understands what we mean about it. What we mean is that if you have one data type, like video, you don’t discriminate against one person’s video in favor of another. It’s OK to discriminate across different types…There is general agreement with Verizon and Google on this issue. The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy…and that’s really an FCC issue, not a Google issue.”
 

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