How to be Evil: A Lesson from Google on Non-Transparency

For having released a policy proposal (jointly, with Verizon) that pushes transparency as a key element of Internet access, Google’s certainly acting shady on its public policy blog.

For starters, Google’s recap mentions only one tiny piece of the spooky Network Management section of the proposal at all. The section includes the monstrous sentence below, which seems to provide blanket allowance for traffic regulation by ISPs:

Reasonable network management includes any technically sound practice: to reduce or mitigate the effects of congestion on its network; to ensure network security or integrity; to address traffic that is unwanted by or harmful to users, the provider’s network, or the Internet; to ensure service quality to a subscriber; to provide services or capabilities consistent with a consumer’s choices; that is consistent with the technicalrequirements, standards, or best practices adopted by an independent, widely-recognized Internet community governance initiative or standard-setting organization; to prioritize general classes ortypes of Internet traffic, based on latency; or otherwise to manage the daily operation of its network.

I tried to find a key phrase or two to italicize for emphasis—but the passage has just too many nasty bits to single any out.

The Google-Verizon proposal also pointedly declaws the FCC (while also begging for federal funds to develop broadband Internet access in “unserved” areas). The document notes that the FCC is merely to “oversee” broadband Internet access, and includes the most bizarre sentence I’ve read this year:

Regulatory authorities would not be permitted to regulate broadband Internet access service.

Nasty, right? But Google’s blog post makes all this sound much sunnier, noting that the proposal creates “enforceable consumer protection and nondiscrimination standards that go beyond the FCC’s preexisting consumer safeguards,” and claims “the proposal also provides for a new enforcement mechanism for the FCC to use.” That enforcement mechanism seems to mirror what’s in place for broadcast television; the crucial difference is that in the broadband case, the FCC would be enforcing rules set up by the companies being enforced (since regulatory bodies wouldn’t be allowed to regulate). Sounds like paradise for the companies providing access, doesn’t it?

What a distressing lack of integrity from the company that looks to be taking over our digital lives.

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