I just got off a media conference call with Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg.
They announced a new policy recommendation that would kill the Internet as we know it, if implemented by FCC Chair Julius Genachowski and other policy makers.
The Google/Verizon deal (also posted online) basically says:
- The old "wireline" Internet that will be irrelevant in a few years? We propose a "new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices" on that.
- New "wireless services" (aka the entire future of the Internet)? No equivalent nondiscrimination rules for that, but we'll "create enforceable transparency rules." That way, as Americans lose access to the free and open Internet, they can visibly watch it go away.
- Just in case "wireless services" doesn't encompass the entire future of the Internet, a new class of "new services" is envisioned, which Schmidt and Seidenberg actively differentiated from "the public Internet." Basically, through private contracting, big corporations could deal directly with the Verizons and AT&Ts of the world to create the next YouTube, maybe dangle it without discrimination to the public just long enough for us to be hooked, and then discriminate like hell over it. But don't worry, the FCC will "monitor the development of these services."
Google, a company that I've long admired and currently hold thousands of dollars of stock in, just "went evil."
That's why over 300,000 Americans have signed an open letter telling Google "don't be evil" -- protect Net Neutrality and the Internet's level playing field. You can sign here.
This letter was launched last week by 5 groups that use the Internet to organize millions of Americans around issues, and are now using the Internet to save the Internet itself -- Free Press, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn, Credo Action, and ColorOfChange.
Why did Google cut this absurd deal, one that dramatically hurts its credibility in the online space?
We know why Verizon did it. Verizon is a decrepit old company that made massive investments in old landline technology and is coming face-to-face with market irrelevance. In a properly functioning marketplace, Verizon would soon crumble and die and be replaced by modern-day innovators. The only way for them to stay in business is to block innovation and to put tollbooths on the Internet that are in nobody's interest but Verizon's and other decrepit companies like AT&T.
There is no reason in the world for Google, which has made smart investments in the future, to find common ground with Verizon on the issue of Internet openness. None. Zero. Zilch. Today's deal was unneeded, uncalled for, and incompatible with Google's "don't be evil" mantra.
Google's decision to cut a deal with Verizon wreaks of either impatience or fear. Either Google wasn't willing to wait for the Verizons of the world to crumble and die -- and therefore moved it's own business development timeline up 5 or 10 years at the expense of the entire American public. Or, Google feared doing the dirty work that comes with being a leader -- despite launching a "Google Fiber for Communities" program that competes head-to-head with the decrepit incumbents, Google feared actually having to fulfill their potential to defeat the bad guys.
So, they cut a deal with the bad guys. And they're now asking the public to accept two Internet experiences -- a great experience for the old Internet that will soon cease to exist, and an experience filled with discrimination and lack of a level playing field for the entire future of the Internet.
Then, help save the Internet by sending this link to your friends and asking them to join you in getting involved.