Thursday, March 15, 2007

Astroturf Buzz Kill: Google Still Supports Net Neutrality

Published at Huffington Post

The blogosphere has been abuzz over a report that alleges Google is backing off its full commitment to Net Neutrality legislation. A recent story at GigaOm points to a quote from a Google exec that suggests the company is taking a different position.

This in turn fired up the AT&T shills and Astroturf groups who stumbled over themselves to declare disarray among Net Neutrality supporters.

But once again, these paid apologists got it wrong. Surprised by what appeared to be a Google about face, we actually called the company to ask them where they stand. (You would hope that any good reporter would have done the same.)

"Google's position on Net Neutrality has not changed one bit," Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich told us. We asked him to put it in writing. He emailed us this:
"We strongly believe that Congress must take action to ensure a free and open Internet, in the face of a highly concentrated broadband market. Furthermore, Google's position -- which we testified to last year in Congress -- is that broadband network operators should not be permitted to charge any content owner extra fees or extra tolls. We continue to support net neutrality legislation by Senators Dorgan and Snowe, and by Representative Markey, and we remain steadfast members of the coalition supporting net neutrality."

Schmidt: With the Public on Net Neutrality

Adam echoes Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who just last week told Bloomberg TV's Judy Woodruff :
"We believe that it is a violation of a fundamental assumption of the Internet, that every piece of the Internet is reachable. It's called the end-to-end principle. And we believe that Net Neutrality, if it is given up, that new competitors, new entrants, new ideas, become much more difficult. So far we have been able to hold back the forces. It looks like we'll have a good year."
Good for Google. But it's important to remember that this debate is not just between one corporate Titan and another. It’s a battle that pits the special interests of the few (phone and cable companies) against a vast grassroots effort involving more than a million Americans from every corner of society.

As much as they try, the phone companies and their paid apologists can't ignore the vast grassroots campaign that has lifted Net Neutrality from obscurity and thrown a wrench in their plan to seize control of the Internet.

This debate is about ensuring that the Internet remains a engine for free speech, economic innovation and new ideas. We remain pleased Google sees it our way.

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