Google, Verizon Laud FCC Principles, But See No Role for Agency in Internet’s Future

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2010 – Verizon and Google submitted a rare joint filing to the FCC on Thursday. The two communications giants praised the agency for its principles while stinging it by saying that communications laws and regulations should not apply to Internet applications, content, or serv

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2010 – Cozying up by declaring “our businesses rely on each other,” Internet service giant Verizon and content and search company Google submitted a joint filing on Thursday to the Federal Communications Commission responding to the agency’s proposed open internet rules.

Each company filed separate comments but the duo used the rare joint filing to highlight areas where their interests intersect: “We believe that we need a policy that will ensure openness and preserve the essential character of the Internet as a global, interconnected network of networks and users that is thriving based on a common set of core values.”

The Internet must be treated as a “unique, worldwide network of networks” based on “overarching values that are embraced by all players in the eco-system to support continuing innovation and investment,” they recommended. The companies acknowledged the network’s roots in open research and cooperation between stakeholders, but cautioned these successes took place “in an environment of minimal regulation.” The Internet has become successful because of cooperation and non-interference, the filing said.

Concerns over regulations aside, the filing boldly declared: “It is essential that the Internet remains an unrestricted and open platform, where people can access the lawful content, services and applications of their choice.”

The language of the joint filing appears to be an explicit endorsement of the FCC’s Internet policy statement, which some broadband watchers have criticized for lacking any force of law – an issue currently before the courts as cable firm Comcast fights the FCC censure it received for blocking company BitTorrent’s content from effectively streaming over the Internet.

An open Internet must ensure “innovation without permission,” the companies wrote. Such innovation has been a characteristic of the Internet from the beginning and strong infrastructure is a key part of preserving the Internet, they declared.

“We strongly believe that open, robust and advanced broadband networks are essential to the future to development of the Internet,” they reiterated, adding that public policies should be formulated to encourage investment in new infrastructure and new technologies to achieve the nation’s broadband potential.

Users must have control of their information, and as many choices as possible, the companies wrote. That control should cover “all aspects of [consumer] Internet experience, from the networks and software they use, to the hardware they plug in…and the services they choose.” No single entity should be able dictate consumer choice, the filing boldly declares, and calls for the commission to implement policies to protect consumers’ rights.

But the FCC has no place in the future of the Internet, the companies later note: “…[C]ommunications laws and regulations should not apply to Internet applications, content, or services.” The FCC has no jurisdiction over the Internet and there is “no sound reason” to impose communications laws on the medium, they argue – instead declaring consumer disputes are best resolved by the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission.

Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club event, “Net Neutrality, Copyright Protection and the National Broadband Plan,” on Tuesday, January 19, 2010, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Register here.

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