Okay, so we can’t help but scratch our technical itch and put something up about what’s going on with Google and Verizon right now with their net neutrality deal. First of all, what’s net neutrality? Excuse us as we get some of the foundation popping.
Network neutrality is a principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions by Internet Service Providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and no restrictions on the modes of communication allowed. The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access.
Since early 2000, advocates of net neutrality and associated rules have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (for instance, websites, services and protocols), particularly those of competitors. In the US particularly, but elsewhere as well, the possibility of regulations designed to mandate the neutrality of the Internet has been subject to fierce debate. Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services.
Opponents of net neutrality characterize its regulations as “a solution in search of a problem”, arguing that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance. In spite of this claim, certain Internet service providers have intentionally slowed peer-to-peer (P2P) communications. Still other companies have acted in contrast to these assertions of hands-off behavior and have begun to use deep packet inspection to discriminate against P2P, FTP and online games, instituting a cell-phone style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom “value added” services, and bundling. Critics of net neutrality also argue that data discrimination of some kinds, particularly to guarantee quality of service, is not problematic, but is actually highly desirable.
So, on August 8th Google and Verizon unveiled a joint net neutrality plan that would preserve the openness of the Internet, but provide an exemption for wireless carriers. At the same time, the plan bans wired broadband providers from discriminating against certain applications or services, requires transparency, and would not allow paid priority access to the Web. The Google-Verizon plan is being offered up as a “suggested legislative framework” that could be considered by members of Congress or related government agencies. So, the FCC could consider it, or a member of Congress could introduce the plan as a bill. It’s not a business deal the companies can just make without congressional or FCC action.
Critics claim the proposal is a bad idea long-term and the end result of it will involve users paying more for content such as critical health care services and access to online gaming platforms. Not only that, with the possibility that everything is going wireless, traditional wired broadband connections could become obsolete in a few years and the “transparency rules” in the proposal for wireless carriers will cause the free and open Internet we know now to vanish.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has already urged a crackdown on the Google-Verizon net neutrality deal. Several music organizations, RIAA included, have already expressed written concerns to Google encouraging the company to include protections against copyright infringement and child pornography in its net neutrality plan. The groups said they were “deeply interested” in the Google-Verizon policy proposal as it relates to copyrighted content.
“The Internet has become a crucial part of the music discovery process and a central platform for commerce,” the groups wrote in a letter to Google chief executive Eric Schmidt. “Our ability to invest in and create the next generation of music is grounded on crafting Internet policies and procedures that respect intellectual property.” Any Internet policy must allow ISPs to “take measures to deter unlawful activity such as copyright infringement and child pornography,” they wrote. Seriously? They’re likening downloading free music to child pornography? How many sane people would think those two aren’t apples and oranges?
We think it’s great that Verizon and Google are working together, because Apple and AT&T could use some proper competition when it comes to smart phones. Lots of people claim that Verizon is leaps and bounds better than AT&T. Having customers of both wireless providers on the hipsterwave team, we swear Verizon drains battery life like a bitch even though it has fewer dropped calls and reception in more remote/rural areas. Dropped calls do suck, but aren’t the end of the world.
Seriously though, iPhones are awesome and all, but Apple has been pretty absurd as far as its whole battle against modifying/jailbreaking their devices. Good thing they recently lost their argument in court that jailbreaking your iPhone is illegal.
Google, on the other hand, is far less restrictive with its wireless devices, which makes it pretty tempting to switch from iPhones altogether to a Google phone. However, Google browsers still seem lacking. Not that we’re big fans of Safari either. Firefox is the king of browsers right now, but Google’s Chrome browser is definitely preferred to Apple’s Safari.
It’s lame to be afraid of Google because even though they’ve got billions, everyone is well-aware of how caked-out they are, so it’s pretty hard for them to get away with egregious corporate practices without getting noticed and seeing some serious fucking legal consequences. Feel us?