Steve Watson & Paul Watson
Monday, Dec 15, 2008
Google Inc is lobbying internet providers and phone companies to establish a separate internet traffic lane in order to prioritize the search engine giant’s content, according to a leading report today.
Google has for years been one of the loudest advocates of internet neutrality, the practice of giving all internet data traffic the same level of priority.
However, the Wall Street Journal today reveals that the company, which now incorporates Youtube, wants to set up its own fast track on the web.
The precedent this would set would be to allow companies to pay internet providers for preferential treatment.
Smaller companies, businesses and websites could be left operating in the internet slow lane, unable to compete with the elite of the corporate world.
Defenders of net neutrality say this would constitute a form of censorship and maintain it would kill off the level playing field that has forged the greatest technological advance in human history.
Such a move may inevitably lead to a situation further down the line where a few large companies have a monopoly over online content and distribution.
The company has responded by saying the report in The Wall Street Journal is “confused” and has reaffirmed its support for network neutrality.
Instead, Google explained that the OpenEdge effort (the subject of the WSJ story) was a plan to peer its edge-caching devices directly with the network operators so that the users of those broadband carriers get faster access to Google and YouTube’s content, reports GigaOM.
However, the company did not deny that it was seeking to get its packets ahead of others in this instance by paying internet carriers.
The founding principle of the world wide web was that it is a decentralized communication medium born as a “neutral network”, there are no overriding controllers, as there are with television networks, to whose protocols users and content distributors must adhere to. This is what defines the internet as truly free.
Though Federal Communications Commission guidelines favor net neutrality, there is no concrete law that could stop carriers adopting the fast lanes, which appeal to them as a way of raising more revenue to upgrade their networks.
Indeed, the FCC rules have been weakening on neutrality for the past few years, allowing communications companies such as AT&T and Verizon to publicly acknowledge their intentions to create so called internet fast lanes. Other companies such as Comcast have been caught delaying internet traffic, in itself a form of prioritization.
Such moves by carriers, though much more subtle, are essentially no different to governments filtering and blocking content they deem to be sensitive or controversial, a practice now commonplace not only in Communist China but also throughout the so called free world.
The precedent to clamp down on internet neutrality also dovetails with the move towards the designation of a new form of the internet, of which we have consistently warned our readers, known as Internet 2.
This would be a faster, more streamlined elite equivalent of the internet available to users who were willing to pay more for a much improved service. providers may only allow streaming audio and video on your websites if you were eligible for Internet 2.
Of course, Internet 2 would be greatly regulated and only “appropriate content” would be accepted by an FCC or government bureau. Everything else would be relegated to the “slow lane” internet, the junkyard as it were.
The proponents of the various “Internet 2″ style projects all maintain that the internet in it’s current form is “dead” or “dying”, citing the problem of providing more and more bandwidth as it grows. The fact of the matter is that bandwidth is unlimited, as long as carriers are prepared to provide it, but the continuation of a neutral internet means less control and less profits for the corporate elite.
We are witnessing the first steps on a road of control and corporate centralization of the internet, a move to guarantee the internet serves the commercial and political purposes of large corporations. An internet without neutrality would be a direct attack on the right to information free of censorship or control.