Google/Verizon deal marks beginning of the end for net neutrality

a cartoon satirizing google by geek and poke

A deal between Google and Verizon is an end-run around talks among Internet stakeholders that signals an end to the era of net neutrality. Geek and Poke illustration.

Net neutrality, the sacred rule of the Internet, says that no form of content is favored over any other. Big corporations with the power to control content want the age of net neutrality to come to an end. Google and Verizon, the 800-pound gorillas of the Internet, are in collusion to provide content to Internet users at higher speeds for a higher price. Net neutrality crusaders want the Federal Communications Commission to nix the Google/Verizon axis. But the FCC’s hands were tied in court last April by the Comcast decision saying the FCC has no authority to enforce net neutrality.

Net neutrality talks seek compromise

Net neutrality talks have been taking place with Internet stakeholders and FCC officials. Internet stakeholders include Google, Verizon, AT&T, Skype, cable companies and the Open Internet Coalition. The New York Times reports the discussions involve the FCC’s legal authority to regulate Internet service. Cable and telephone companies want to place a premium on higher bandwidth. Wireless companies want no regulation whatsoever on wireless broadband. Content providers want no favoritism on the Internet. The FCC wants a level playing field, but because of the FCC Comcast decision, it cannot impose one as long as its authority is in legal doubt.

Google and Verizon going rogue

As net neutrality talks with Internet stakeholders and the FCC dragged on, Google and Verizon eloped to make a deal. Bloomberg reports that Google and Verizon are former net neutrality adversaries. Verizon wants free reign to charge more for higher speeds to make as much money as it can get away with. Google has wanted regulations to prevent companies like Verizon from offering content from partners that pay for higher speed. Now, Google may have figured that the era of net neutrality is already over. Making a deal with Verizon could give Google the advantage when the corporate feeding frenzy begins.

Stage set for corporate takeover

A Google-Verizon deal alarms consumer advocates, who say it starts a trend that gives a few mega-corporations control over what has been a free and open web where consumers decide which companies succeed. Save the Internet paints a nightmare scenario where Google products get priority based on commercial deals. Chrome would work better than other browsers. Google Buzz would work better than Twitter. YouTube would get more bandwidth than competing video sites. Google’s Blogger would get special treatment over WordPress. Google’s GChat would work better than Sykpe … and the list goes on.

Google/Verizon winners and losers

The Google/Verizon deal may lead to an Internet where there are winners and losers among media giants, telecom firms and Internet users, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is inevitable that content will be prioritized on the Internet into different streams. There will be higher charges for faster, prioritized content. The Internet service providers will wrest control of the web from the FCC. Big media corporations will squeeze out the competition that keeps them honest. Surfing the Internet will become like trying to find something that isn’t total garbage to watch on cable television.

The only thing standing in the way is the FCC and the courts.

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