Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, who was an enthusiastic Obama supporter, isn't very happy about the Google-Verizon agreement:
The word from Washington is that the White House is pressuring, or more diplomatically, “signaling” the F.C.C. to go slow on Barack Obama’s promise to protect “network neutrality.” The depressingly familiar reason why this might be so is that the White House has finally awoken to the huge political costs that this vital economic principle would incur. The less depressing, but also familiar reason is that senior economic policy types in the White House are continuing on their deregulatory crusade, facts notwithstanding.
[...] As much as anything else, the economic success of the Internet comes from its architecture. The architecture, and the competitive forces it assures, is the only interesting thing at stake in this battle over “network neutrality.” And yet, the most senior economic advisers in the White House don’t seem to know what that means. They could, if they took the time. Barbara van Schewick’s extraordinary new book, "Internet Architecture and Innovation," is perhaps the best explication of this point so far for those who should be studying these hard, new policy questions.
But instead, policymakers, using an economics framework set in the 1980s, convinced of its truth and too arrogant to even recognize its ignorance, will allow the owners of the “tubes” to continue to unmake the Internet — precisely the effect of Google and Verizon’s “policy framework.”
Oblivious and arrogant. Where have we seen this before?
Craig Aaron at the Huffington Post gets into the gory details:
So Google and Verizon went public today with their "policy framework" -- better known as the pact to end the Internet as we know it.
But cut through the platitudes the two companies (Googizon, anyone?) offered on today's press call, and you'll find this deal is even worse than advertised.
The proposal is one massive loophole that sets the stage for the corporate takeover of the Internet.Real Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers can't discriminate between different kinds of online content and applications. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies.
It's what makes sure the next Google, out there in a garage somewhere, has just as good a chance as any giant corporate behemoth to find its audience and thrive online.
What Google and Verizon are proposing is fake Net Neutrality. You can read their framework for yourself here or go here to see Google twisting itself in knots about this suddenly "thorny issue." But here are the basics of what the two companies are proposing:
1. Under their proposal, there would be no Net Neutrality on wireless networks -- meaning anything goes, from blocking websites and applications to pay-for-priority treatment.
2. Their proposed standard for "non-discrimination" on wired networks is so weak that actions like Comcast's widely denounced blocking of BitTorrent would be allowed.
3. The deal would let ISPs like Verizon -- instead of Internet users like you -- decide which applications deserve the best quality of service. That's not the way the Internet has ever worked, and it threatens to close the door on tomorrow's innovative applications. (If RealPlayer had been favored a few years ago, would we ever have gotten YouTube?)
4. The deal would allow ISPs to effectively split the Internet into "two pipes" -- one of which would be reserved for "managed services," a pay-for-play platform for content and applications. This is the proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.
5. The pact proposes to turn the Federal Communications Commission into a toothless watchdog, left fruitlessly chasing consumer complaints but unable to make rules of its own. Instead, it would leave it up to unaccountable (and almost surely industry-controlled) third parties to decide what the rules should be.