Consumer advocates protest Google-Verizon net neutrality statement

by Byron Acohido, Technology Live

Howls of protest are pouring in from consumer advocacy groups over Google's latest stance on Net Neutrality. The search giant earlier today teamed up with Verizon on a joint policy statement that left room for Internet providers to charge Web sites premium fees for some services.

The two companies called for "a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices. This means that for the first time, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition."

At the same time, Google and Verizon want Congress to permit fees for Web sites under certain circumstances, exempt smartphone Internet traffic from any laws and impose restrictions on the Federal Communications Commission's role in regulating high speed Internet traffic.

MoveOn.Org Civic Action, Credo Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and ColorofChange.org issued a joint statement describing how millions will be harmed if Congress goes along with what Google and Verizon have laid out. The advocacy groups have already compiled a petition with 300,000 signatures protesting the deal.

Craig Aaron, managing director of Freepress.net, says the advocacy community feels "betrayed, but not surprised" by what it vews as Google's decision to abandon support for Net Neutrality, the notion that user access to all Web sites carried on the Internet should be free from restrictions.

Aaron says Google's stance was motivated by the potential windfall it stands to earn, show Congress get on board and pass laws like the ones proposed today by Google and Verizon. The search giant and telecom held a press conference; the rationale behind the deal is outlined in this Google blog posting.

"Google has inked a huge deal with Verizon Wireless to push its Android operating system for mobile phones," says Aaron. "Moreover, Google is no longer the little guy. They have an incentive, just like Verizon or AT&T, to find ways to undercut future competition."

"This just shows why you can't trust big companies to regulate themselves - whether they are Verizon, Google, BP or AIG," says Aaron. "It shows why we need our leaders in Washington to step up and make sure there is an even playing field for everyone."

article originally published at Technology Live.

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