Google & Verizon’s Unfair Vision for Net Neutrality

Here is the uncomfortable truth for those, like me, who oppose Google and Verizon’s policy suggestion to the FCC concerning net neutrality: money talks and money walks. Investment and innovation in wireless networks, which are unquestionably the future of the Web, will accelerate if companies can expect a payoff.


The two companies’ joint proposal essentially exempts wireless networks from the level playing field that true net neutrality requires. There are many different scenarios under which this could affect companies and customers: some good, some bad. Take the recent Comcast v. FCC ruling where the government was told its authority did not sufficiently extend to prevent Comcast, an Internet service provider, from slowing users’ access to Bit Torrent sites. Comcast argued that users (illegally) downloading huge movie files slowed the network for other users. While the court’s ruling concentrated on the FCC’s jurisdiction, the case demonstrates an important though difficult truth for net neutrality proponents: some content is better than others.

The Comcast case is an example when net neutrality would have done more harm than good, especially given current copyright laws (don’t get me wrong—I would be sad to see Bit Torrent sites go). I can easily imagine cases where service providers might use their control over Internet access to exploit their customers. If your own cell phone provider (our future partners in Web access) hasn’t already tried to extort money from you, consider yourself in the minority (just type ‘f*ck Verizon’ into YouTube).

There are other scenarios in which net neutrality would create a level playing field for Internet startups and other businesses. Imagine if YouTube were able to pay Verizon a fee so that its videos would stream faster on Verizon’s network. In this case, a large company with large amounts of capital would have a distinct advantage over smaller businesses (such as this one) which have something equally valuable (if not more so) to offer Internet users.

The United States is already the major player in the world’s Internet market. Would its dominance end if consumers were given more rights? I doubt it. Would the pace of new technological development slow as a result of net neutrality? Quite possibly, but this is a compromise implicit in the regulation of industry, and one which we have recently recognized the importance of in the industries of banking, credit cards, real estate and finance. Let’s take a lesson from the recent past, why don’t we?

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less