I’ll wait for details before making up my mind about the Google-Verizon deal on Net neutrality, but CEO Eric Schmidt’s comments are somewhere between distressing and a stab in the back:
I want to be clear what we mean by net neutrality. What we mean is if you have one data type like video, you don’t discriminate against one person’s video in favor of another. But it’s OK to discriminate across different types, so you could prioritize voice over video, and there is general agreement with Verizon and Google on that issue.
That sort of neutrality would forbid access providers from playing favorites within a market â€” Comcast wouldn’t be allowed to let programs from NBC run smoothly while programs from CBS and YouTube run like unsprocketed crap â€” but, it gives up the most important non-market principle of the Internet: The Internet is not for anything in particular. It is for everything we can imagine. It is for us to decide what its for. The Internet is ours, not Verizon’s, not the FCC’s, and not Google’s.
So, why might Google be switching to a version of Net neutrality that is not neutral about what the Net is for? We could give Google the benefit of the doubt â€” “Don’t be evil” and all that â€” but when they start to pull this sort of crap, they lose some of the good will they’ve earned.
So, one possible, uncharitable explanation: Google has joined the chorus of commercial entities that think the Internet is for the delivery and passive consumption of “content.” That is, the Internet is a type of TV link 1 link 2. Why might Google be thinking this way? Perhaps because it doesn’t want YouTube videos to be discriminated against. Or, more likely, it wants Google TV to be able to compete well. So, because Google is growing a TV business, it now gets to decide that TV needs to shoulder aside all other traffic on the Net.
Is my guess right? I don’t know. I’m not saying I can read Schmidt’s mind. All I’m saying is that when Google acts like Verizon and Comcast, it heads toward deserving all of the good will that Verizon and Comcast have managed to accumulate.
Sen. Al Franken is asking US citizens to sign a petition to save Net neutrality.
A proposal: We shorten “Verizon-and-Comcast” to “VomiCast.” Just a thought.