Mike the Mad Biologist

So much for that “Don’t Be Evil” Google bullshit:

Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

This issue has been quite the rage in the lefty and righty blogosphere for the simple reason that most grassroots organizations won’t be able to afford the high-price superhighway, but, instead, be stuck on the slow road to oblivion. I’ve never thought the opposition to net neutrality is political in nature (that’s just a bonus). The reason is much more venial (italics mine):

The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers. The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.

Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.

Because what America really needs is even more rent extraction (never any Marxists around when you really need them…). Don’t kid yourself, you’re just going to end up paying more for service you would have had with net neutrality.

I wonder if ScienceBlogs (or Scientopia, or Discover) will be able to afford this. Fortunately, the New York Times probably will be able to afford this (they can’t really afford not to), so you’ll be able to get a high-speed stream of Virginia Heffernan.

What really sucks about all of this is that I just switched over to Google Mail, and my workplace is thinking about getting heavily into Google products.

Probably have to switch back to the old email system…

There a petition you can sign, not that our political system is responsive to that sort of stuff, but it’s worth the ol’ college try.

An aside: I’m really tempted to add this to the Google News feed. I’m such a stinker.

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    August 6, 2010

    Because what America really needs is even more rent extraction

    It’s the only form of economic growth still going.

  2. #2 Adam F
    August 6, 2010

    Note that the actual negotiation was that Verizon would keep its landlines net-neutral, but would be allowed to prioritize service on its wireless phone network.

  3. #3 Lehman
    August 6, 2010

    Looks like the full story is yet to be reported. http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100805-724063.html

  4. #4 Aaron
    August 6, 2010

    Is this actually going to be as bad as it sounds? No.

    Instituting something that is so obviously an affront to net neutrality would cause too much blowback. Considering that small internet based media stands to lose more than most, and that they have an ever growing audience, that blowback could be significant.

    The heart of the matter, however, is that this is a political issue, not an economic one. From the standpoint of service providers, it makes good economic sense to provide “premium” data rates. We shouldn’t blame them for making good business decisions, although google invites criticism with “don’t be evil.”

    It’s a political issue that requires legislation.

  5. #5 AnonymousCoward
    August 6, 2010

    What still has me baffled is the whole bandwidth usage argument, and how people actually buy that doing away with net-neutrality affects it in the least.

    If some activity generates a lot of packets, and the costs are based on usage, then people who use lots of bandwidth are already paying more. The whole reason that these companies want to do away with neutrality is so they can charge more for services that don’t generate lots of packets.

  6. #6 Lurker #753
    August 6, 2010

    @AC #5

    No, the point isn’t to charge more for services with lots of packets. The point is to charge more for packets that are worth more. This is determined by creating different classes of service, and ensuring that the performance of the lowest classes are appalling. Those customers who pay to get out of the lowest class? See, those are the important customers.

    A railway service had three classes: 1st class had upholstered seats, curtains, tea service, complementary newspapers, etc. 2nd class was wooden bench seats. 3rd class was the same as 2nd class, but without any glass in the windows.

    Officially, the price differential between 1st and 2nd was due to the cost of the higher quality of service, but the absence of glass in 3rd class was simply a way of getting the poorest customers on board without losing the higher profit from 2nd class.

    So, if Net Neutrality is abandoned, everybody gets shoved into 3rd class by default, and invited to buy an upgrade.

    This isn’t some faint hippy whine. Industry is kept healthy by underdogs rising and either keeping the Big Dogs on their toes, or pushing the senescent aside. If the system is biased against the underdog (by reserving usable bandwidth to those with deep pockets), it will inevitably stagnate. Net Neutrality is simply a call for a level playing field.

  7. #7 Nox
    August 6, 2010

    Not only are Google and Verizon both denying this but the FCC, which had been holding closed-door meetings looking into the feasibility of non-net-neutral ideas, has scrapped their secretive meetings in the face of the backlash against this.

  8. #8 A
    August 7, 2010

    Re: Comment 7: Perhaps, but they’ll try again.
    Didn’t I hear last year that some important win for Net Neutrality had happened? If so, it didn’t last.
    And if it is just a FCC decision, it will be overturned the day the Republicans regain a majority there.
    Only having net neutrality in a law would make a change from it more difficult, although, as we learned from the Bush years, lack of enforcement can also do wonders.
    So, as they say, perpetual vigilance is required here, too.

  9. #9 yogi-one
    August 7, 2010

    They came to Seattle and got an earful of citizens last time. This time, it’s all about secret meetings and back-room deals. Google takes a tip from Dick Cheney and copies his energy-congerence technique – shut the public out of it, tell them there’s nothing to worry about, and keep all the contents secret.

    I sense a class of pigs arising from the Google-farm.

    “Don’t be evil” is becoming “Some evil is less evil than other evil.” A slippery slope indeed.

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