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Google-Verizon Roundup

Having written a long post on the topic, I just wanted to recommend a few pithier takes on the issue:

Bill McGeveran, “the Google defection:”

Google’s defection from the supporters of an open internet changes the political dynamics for the worse, opens the door to creation of a second-class internet for non-corporate content, and tries to disable the FCC’s ability to do anything about it.

Marvin Ammori, “makes BP look good:”

Last week I wrote up a guide of the FCC negotiations on net neutrality, setting out all the loopholes, and noting that the carriers needed only one loophole to kill an open Internet. Verizon and Google announced their pact two days ago. Rather than including one loophole, they went down the checklist and included just about every loophole they could.

Maybe the most ridiculous one—which has received almost no attention—is something I didn’t mention last week. It’s the liability limit. The maximum fine for a violation, after all the loopholes are met, is $2 million dollars. . . .This liability limit has become a symbol of corporate greed in passing the risk of disaster to the US government and US citizens.

John Bergmayer, Public Knowledge, “there’s only one internet:”

[T]his isn’t just a weak tea proposal, focusing only on the areas where the companies agree. By carving out and redefining whole sections of the Internet and undermining the FCC, it actively undermines net neutrality, and tilts the landscape in favor of those companies who can afford to tangle with ISPs “case by case” or to have their applications characterized as “additional online services.” Google CEO Eric Schmidt claims to be crafting rules that will protect “the next Google.” But with weak “rules” like the ones his company has proposed, he can rest assured that the next Google will be — Google.

Rob Frieden, “the fix is in:”

A vacuum of leadership, initiative and follow through [at FCC] has provided Google and Verizon with this opportunity to help shape the agenda and frame the issues. . . . I feel as though the “fix is in” when major stakeholders can cut a deal and move on to the main goal of “enhancing shareholder value.” I would like to see the addition of “in a socially responsible manner,” but that may be too much to expect even from “do no evil” Google.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, on Google’s realpolitik:

[W]hy would Google do this? First, Google gets neutrality in the “classic Internet,” which Google rightly believes it will govern for some time. Second, Google’s mobile operating system, Android, has been very successfully running on phones on Verizon’s mobile network. So whatever data prioritization deals are being made in the mobile space, Google was going to be in the backroom with Verizon anyway. So it was never prepared to fight for mobile network neutrality.

Tim Wu, a Google divided between idealists and realists?:

those people at Google who still believe in the company’s founding principles need to take back the firm, so to speak, and understand that its wireless ambitions and Washington deal-making could damage the integrity of the whole venture.

Ryan Singel, on “playing nice” with the carriers:

[A] generic Android phone that isn’t also a “Google-enhanced” Android phone isn’t worth selling. And you can’t make a Google-enhanced Android phone without Google’s permission. And that is precisely where Google had, and still has, the power to force openness. Instead, it has decided to play nicely with the wireless carriers in hopes of winning market share and mining advertising gold from miniature computers.

Its capitulation allows the carriers it works with to do the same thing AT&T and Apple have done to protect their businesses: ban cool apps for no real reason (Google Voice on the iPhone for one), cripple apps to protect business models (Skype on the iPhone) and outright ban data-heavy apps from third parties (Slingbox for the iPhone), all the while promoting their own app (MLB’s iPhone app).

Bottom line: a locked down, vertically integrated, opaque information infrastructure is slouching our way. But that may just be a “fringe loser‘s” perspective. Never underestimate communication power.

X-Posted: Concurring Opinions.