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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

wtf: Google is being evil

Good-bye Net neutrality. Hello entrenched corporate dominance of the Internet (via The New York Times):

WASHINGTON — Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers. The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.

Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.

Google’s motto used to be “Don’t be evil.” I guess as soon as Google realized being evil pays more, they amended that motto to “Don’t be evil unless there’s a buck in it.”

Just so this is perfectly clear, big corporations with bottomless coffers will pay lots of money to ISPs so their traffic takes priority over, say, that of an independent movie review site like this one. Or of a grassroots political blog. Or of any site that attempts to counter any message that is backed with big money. These indie sites may still be around, but they’ll have a harder time getting read.

And then, for some bizarre reason, even though your ISP has a new source of steady revenue from corporate content providers, you the consumer will end up paying higher Internet costs. The Times doesn’t go into how that will happen, but clearly, either your ISP is going to soak you even more for the privilege of that faster access — even though the content provider is also paying to get that content to you faster — or the content provider will impose a fee to get that content. Like this: You Tube pays your ISP to give priority to its traffic, and then YouTube recoups that fee by charging you to look at YouTube.

Bastards. Every last fucking one of them.

Oh, but don’t worry. It’ll all be “fair”:

Many content providers — like Amazon, eBay and Skype — prefer no favoritism on the Internet or they want to be sure that if a pay system exists, all content providers have the opportunity to pay for faster service.

See? Indie sites will be allowed the opportunity to pay individual ISPs exhorbitant fees to speed their content through to surfers. It won’t be Amazon or Google or eBay’s fault if FlickFilosopher.com or Media Matters or Wikileaks can’t cough up millions of dollars a year to do so.

There’s a lot of stuff in the Times piece about the FCC, and whether it has the authority to do anything other than bend over for these giant corps:

The court decision said the F.C.C. lacked the authority to require that an Internet service provider refrain from blocking or slowing down some content or applications, or giving favor to others. The F.C.C. has since sought another way in which to enforce the concept of net neutrality. But its proposals have been greeted with much objection in Congress and among Internet service providers, cable companies and some Internet content producers.

But there’s nothing about how the Internet is a global network. Net neutrality seems better protected in Europe; if that’s the case, and Net neutrality goes the way of dialup in the U.S., won’t that put the U.S. at a disadvantage (except, of course, in the one area it already excels at: corporate greed)? Won’t it isolate Americans even more than we already are from the rest of the world?

I’m chalking this up as No. 178,987 on my list of Reasons I Have Fucking Had It With Absolutely Everything.



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  • RyanT

    Verizon and Google Deny Talks to End Net Neutrality

    http://mashable.com/2010/08/05/google-verizon-net-neutrality-2/

  • PillowCaseLaw

    The problem with the FCC is that it reclassified ISPs in such a way that it literally gave up most of its regulatory authority. Granted, all it really has to do is find a reason to revert that reclassification and it can step in properly, but until that happens we’ve got no one on our side. Fitting that this is Verizon we’re dealing with, a company that has lied to the FCC in response to consumer complaints, leaving the consumer to have to enter into a not-exactly-inexpensive “formal complaint procedure” at their own expense.

  • PillowCaseLaw

    Fact-checking? Reliability? A journalist needs not these things, Ryan – only a soapbox from which to shout and something to shout about!

  • It’s starting to sound like somebody blew this way out of proportion this morning. Hopefully we’ll get the full explanation soon.

    Google this morning denied the existence of such a deal.

    “The New York Times is quite simply wrong,” a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail. “We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open Internet.”

    Verizon also denied it.

    “The New York Times article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose,” Verizon said in a statement. “As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.”

    source: Google Denies Priority Internet Access Deal With Verizon, PCMAG.COM

  • MaryAnn

    Fact-checking? Reliability? A journalist needs not these things, Ryan – only a soapbox from which to shout and something to shout about!

    The NYTimes and other mainstream outlets do not have a good track record lately, but it’s also true that corps will deny something out of the wazoo until they suddenly embrace it like it’s the Greatest Thing Ever.

    I hope the Times is wrong. But I’m not optimistic. At that Mashable link, Google’s CEO is quoted as saying:

    We’re trying to find solutions that bridge between the hardcore net neutrality view and the telecom view.

    That sounds like a mealy-mouthed nondenial. As for the Google spokesperson who said:

    We remain as committed as we always have been to an open Internet.

    Opponents of Net neutrality also say they are for an open Internet.

    Google and Verizon don’t deny they are talking. But what possible reason could these companies have to be talking? Google doesn’t need the cooperation of a Verizon to remain committed to Net neutrality.

    I’ll maintain my skepticism for now.

  • Lisa

    Are you ok, MaryAnn?

    You seem real stressed out lately.

  • MaryAnn

    No, I’m not okay. Yes, I am totally stressed out.

  • The problem with the NYT article is it’s full of dire predictions that are based on zero facts:

    …are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

    This is speculation.

    The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google…

    Speculation.

    The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.

    Speculation.

    Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality…

    Speculation.

    In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system…

    Speculation.

    That’s all this article is, pure speculation. Hit-whoring at its worst. It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, to see the NYT isn’t above using scare-tactics to get extra traffic.

    Sorry you’re stressed, MaryAnn, but this appears to be one thing you don’t have to worry about. At least not today.

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