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It looks like when they're not occupied with trying to tear the iPhone from the exclusivity of AT&T's Kung fu death grip, Google and Verizon have been cooking up some homestyle love for the public at large in the area of internet neutraility. In a statement made this morning on Google's Public Policy Blog, the two companies announced that their Wonder Twin powers had been activated for the sake of preserving the neutraility of the internet.
Last October, you may recall that the two companies held hands and released a joint statement of principles on the issue, declaring that the pair believed that it was "essential that the internet remains an unrestricted and open platform--where people can access any content (so long as it's legal), as well as the services and applications of their choice." Back then, both companies cross-posted five basic concepts they felt were imperative in being able to protect the openess of the internet, the broadstrokes of which are as follows:
1. The public should always have a say in how the internet is used.
2. Policies designed to spur innovation are essential to continue the growth and advancement of the internet and must be enacted.
3. The principles of onus that the FCC has put in place stating that end users are responsible for the content and the means by which they consume must be made enforceable, clearly understood and when enforced, considered on a case-by-case basis.
4. Flexibility in government policy surrounding the internet is vital.
5. Internet traffic congestion, DoS attacks, spam and malware are a fact of life. Broadband network providers need to come to terms with this and stop having hissy-fits on their users everytime something goes wrong.
6. Internet providers must provide transparency in the area of what services they can and cannot provide to their users.
All of this sounds like pretty good stuff, right? Power to the people! Internet for everyone! Everything above board!
Somewhere over the past 10 months, Google and Verizon got together to chat out a few changes to their game plan. While much of the philosophy behind their October announcement remains intact, it is buttressed by the new recommendation that the Federal Universal Service Fund needs to be adjusted so that broadband internet is deployed in all parts of the United States, and not just in areas with large concentrations of users. We can get behind that sort of thing, but the sixth clause has us feeling a little iffy:
"Sixth, we both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wireline world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly. In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement. In addition, the Government Accountability Office would be required to report to Congress annually on developments in the wireless broadband marketplace, and whether or not current policies are working to protect consumers."
That sounds just a little spooky, don't you think?
It reminds us of something else:
Meance wrapped up in candy.
It's best to bear in mind that all of what's being suggested by Google and Verizon are exactly that: Suggestions. How this will play out is anyone's guess.