I am baffled by the Google-Verizon agreement on nonnet-nonneutrality. I’m mostly baffled by why Google would put its name to this. What does it gain?
As I see it, the agreement makes two huge carve-outs to neutrality and regulation of the internet: mobile and anything new.
So ol, grandpa internet may chug along giving us YouTube videos of flaming cats, but you want to get that while you’re out of your house? Well, that’s the nonnet. I can hear the customer “service” rep explaining this to us:
“Oh, no, sir. That’s not offered on the internet. That’s on the schminternet.”
You want something new? Anything created after 2010?
And transparency in essence creates a third carve-out: So long as the phone company tells you it’s screwing your bits, it’s ok.
But wait. Mobile is the internet. Mobile will very soon become a meaningless word when — well, if telcos allow it, that is — we are connected everywhere all the time. Then who cares where you are? Mobile? doesn’t matter. You’re just connected. In your car, in your office, in your bedroom, on the street. You’re connected. To what? To the internet, damnit.
“No, sir, I told you, the schminternet.”
Besides, Google itself proposed using the broadcast white spaces to create “wi-fi on steroids,” enabling us to do anything we could imagine and creating the competition that is the only real solution to net neutrality, competition that would force telcos to provide open, fast, reliable service at a decent price or we go elsewhere, competition that could even — oh, if only — put a few telcos and even cable companies out of business. Good, old, American competition. That was where Google’s interests were supposed to lie: the more we use the internet, they say, the more money they make. White-space steroid wi-fi would get us to use the internet more. But that would be new.
“Sir, sir, if I could interrupt you. We do offer the things you want. Let me connect you to a sales representative for our schminternet department. She will be glad to explain the fees, limitations, and regulations to you. I’ll be putting you on hold now….”
: LATER: In my tweet, I called this a Munich Pact. Netizens are now citizens of the Sudentenland.
Just as Czechoslovakia was not invited to its cutting apart, so were we not invited to Google and Verizon’s parlays.
But the internet is ours, not yours, Verizon and Google. This is why we need our Bill of Rights in Cyberspace.
As the Google-China drama played out, I said that Google was acting, against its own desire, as our ambassador to China and other nations. I said that’s not good for us, as Google has its own interests and they don’t necessarily align with ours. Google is a corporation. (And I’ve just scored a point for Siva in the debate we hope to have at SXSW about whether companies have to be evil or can be good.)
So as after China, I will argue that it is up to us to create our own principles so we can point corporations and government at them. Otherwise, they will take over our land without us at the table.
Pass the sauerkraut, Herr Chamberlain.
: AND: I now own Schminternet.net. What should I do with it? Something new, of course.
: QUESTIONS: So If I take an iPhone or iPad away from my home and its wi-fi and start using cellular spectrum, is that the internet or the schminternet?
If you launch, say, a new video university, because it’s new, is that internet or schminternet?
And if it’s schminternet, do I have to negotiate with each carrier to carry it? Who gets to say it’s new? Me or them? Who gets to say what the limit is of the service I would get on the old, plain internet, forcing me to us and pay for the schminternet?
Oh, and I really still do not get Google’s interest in playing this role. OK, folks now it’s time for your conspiracy theories.
: REACTION: Josh Marshall says the Munich Pact analogy is “a bit inflammatory but unfortunately pretty much captures it.”
: Kara Swisher says I was making a joke on “Schmidt.” I honestly, densely didn’t even think of that until someone tweeted it after I wrote the post. It’s a Yiddish gag: Kara, Schmara. Jarvis, Schmarvis. Verizon, Verklempt. You get the idea.
: AND: Finally, a good piece explaining Google’s possible motives by Wired.com’s Ryan Singel: “Verizon and the nation’s telecoms have yet again won; Google officially became a net neutrality surrender monkey; and you, as an American, have lost.”