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Four House members blast Google-Verizon plan; call on FCC to act

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Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 5:43 pm

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Four House members blast Google-Verizon plan; call on FCC to act

Four members of the House  Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet,  on Monday called the Google-Verizon joint net neutrality plan too “industry-centered” and called on the Federal Communications Commission to regulate broadband.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski the four Democrats said net neutrality must include the wireless industry.  The Google-Verizon proposal would exempt wireless Internet.

Wireless, of course, is the future of the Internet, which the two companies are working hard together to dominate.

Two things are noteworthy about the Representatives’ letter.  The chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Rick Boucher, D-VA,  wasn’t part of the effort to confront the two corporate giants. Perhaps that’s not surprising when you remember two of his former staffers now lobby on behalf of Google.

Second, Rep. Anna Eshoo,  D-CA, whose Silicon Valley district is home to the Google Headquarters,  did sign. And, she had tough words for Google:

“In my Silicon Valley district there are people building the next generation of internet breakthroughs. We cannot undermine their success by ‘cable-izing’ the Internet. That’s why my colleagues and I remain steadfast in our commitment to net neutrality. The reactions to the legislative proposal from Google and Verizon demonstrate that it is not nearly strong enough to meet this standard.”

Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-MA, offered this view:

“No private interest should be permitted to carve up the Internet to suit its own purposes. The open Internet has been an innovation engine that has helped power our economy, and fiber-optic fast lanes or tiers that slow down certain content would dim the future of the Internet to the detriment of consumers, competition, job creation and the free-flow of ideas.”

Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wa, didn’t think much of the way the Google-Verizon deal was reached:

“Americans online experience shouldn’t be dictated by corporate CEO’s. Innovation and creativity online have given rise to millions of jobs and tremendous economic growth, in large part because individual consumers have been free to access what they want.  Net neutrality is not about imposing a new set of rules, net neutrality is about preserving the open Internet and empowering consumers and small businesses to bring the next generation of entrepreneurial drive to the world wide web.”

Rep. Mike Doyle, D-PA, warned the Google-Verizon deal could stifle the economy:

“I am concerned that the proposal put forward by Google and Verizon could have the effect of choking off much of the most important, creative, and valuable contributions the Internet can make to the idea-driven economy of the 21st century. At a time when research shows that low-income Americans are the fastest-growing users of the mobile web, it would be short-sighted to wall-off those users from the open internet and all of its benefits.”

The letter to Genachowski said that rather than a plan from  “two large communications companies with a vested financial interest in the outcome, formal FCC action is needed.”

The Representative’s letter listed four principles they said should guide the FCC as it moves forward to regulate broadband:

– The FCC must have oversight authority for broadband access services.

– Paid Prioritization would close the open Internet.

– Wire and wireless access should have a common regulatory framework and rules.

– Broad “managed services” exceptions would swallow open Internet rules.

The letter concluded by asking the commission to “focus on adherence to the public interest” while providing “certainty both for entrepreneurs and Internet users.”  That sure makes sense to me and it’s also crystal clear that is not the sentiment driving Google’s behavior.

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 361 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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