The End Of Net Neutrality?

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A rather worrying story appeared almost simultaneously in The New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg and Politico yesterday. The story was of a deal between Google and Verizon (American broadband and telecoms company) to end the ‘neutrality’ of Internet services, and introduce tariffs where you can gain quicker speeds by paying more. We already have different pricing options for the Internet speed coming into our houses, but this would introduce another level by making individual sites faster or slower, such as YouTube.

The reason so much has been made of this, is that since the beginning of the Internet, it has been a level playing field, allowing all content to move at the same speed regardless of what it was. If this was to change it would turn the whole internet into a pay-per-view, cable TV system.

The American FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has also been denied the power to police Verizon (amongst others) after a previous bungle by the bush-era FCC. Combine that with the power Google commands and it suddenly looks like a scary prospect, especially as this is where the future of radio, TV, music, information and many other things undoubtedly is.

It is currently being debated whether this is a hoax, as all the papers quoted an ‘anonymous source’ for the information, and all the stories are slightly different, whilst Google and Verizon vehemently deny any deal, as they would. Some people doubt that Google would go so far from their company motto of “Don’t be evil”, but more are of the view that Google has slowly and quietly been sacrificing it’s principles over the last few years in the name of profit.

To finish up, here’s a quote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt way back in 2006, when they were unquestionably no.1, way before Bing arrived and started stealing their market share.

Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can’t pay.

There is, apparently, to be an announcement on Monday. You might want to take the weekend to say goodbye to the net as you know it, just in case.

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