Google and Network Neutrality: Make Your “Open Edge” Proposals to the Telcos and Cable Companies Public

If the documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal provide Google with “a fast lane for its own content,” critical questions are raised about its commitment to meaningful network neutrality.  The Google policy blog post suggests that the Journal misunderstood the meaning of the alleged negotiation documents.  What Google wants, they claim, is to develop an effective caching arrangement.  But there are legitimate critical questions that should be raised about the ultimate effect of a contractual deal which places  “servers directly within the network of the service providers.”

We believe Google is seeking this arrangement to ensure that its advertiser-based services, including so-called rich media applications, You Tube branded ads, and multi-media universal search applications, have priority.  We think the future of the democratic potential of the Internet is undermined when those with deep pockets can favor their content over others.  In essence, Google’s Fortune 1000 client base will get to jump to the head of the queue before non-profit, small business and civic applications.  We recognize that many applications use similar strategies.  But all this needs to to be fully publicly debated, especially given the incoming Obama Administration’s support for network neutrality and its own political connections with Google.

That’s why Google should make immediately public the proposals made to phone and cable companies.  Let’s thoughtfully review what they are asking for, understand the context, and engage in the necessary public discussion. Google needs to be forthcoming on this.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

Leave a Reply