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Public Interest Groups Bemoan Reported Google, Verizon Secret Network Neutrality Pact

in Broadband's Impact/Net Neutrality/Transparency by

WASHINGTON, August 5, 2010 - It has been reported that Google and Verizon are working on a secret pact about network neutrality. The New York Times says this pact will give Google products preferential treatment on the Verizon network. However both firms are claiming this is untrue. However, public interest organizations are bemoaning the entire concept of a secret pact.

In a statement on the Verizon web site, company Executive Director of Media Relations David Fish, states: “The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect. “

Google also denies the claims in an interview with the U.K. publication The Guardian: "The New York Times is quite simply wrong. We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open internet."

"People get confused about net neutrality," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said. "I want to make sure that everybody understands what we mean about it. What we mean is that if you have one data type, like video, you don't discriminate against one person's video in favor of another. It's OK to discriminate across different types...There is general agreement with Verizon and Google on this issue. The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy...and that's really an FCC issue not a Google issue."

The deal however has received criticism from consumer and media advocacy groups including Public Knowledge, Free Press, New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative and the Media Access Project.

In a joint statement they said: “It is unseemly and inappropriate for two giant companies to decide the future of the internet and how internet will work for millions of users. It would be inappropriate for Congress and the FCC policymakers to use this agreement as the basis for public policy.

The public and policymakers should not be fooled. This agreement cannot be enforced by any governmental agency and will provide no protection against the types of abuse we seen from large Internet Service Providers. The Internet belongs to all of us, not to Verizon and Google. There is widespread public support for an open Internet.”

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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