Google and Verizon have made a deal that would allow Verizon to speed up connections to certain websites that have paid for the privilege. Those who favor Net Neutrality have been warning of this situation for several years, yet many have continued to believe it would never happen. Senator Al Franken recently reminded us why Net Neutrality is so important, but Google and Verizon have decided to forge down this path anyway.
How did this happen? We have a Federal Communications Commission that has been denied authority by the courts to police the activities of Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast. All because of a bad decision by the Bush-era FCC. We have a pro-industry FCC Chairman who is terrified of making a decision, conducting back room dealmaking, and willing to sit on his hands rather than reassert his agency’s authority. We have a president who promised to “take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality” yet remains silent. We have a congress that is nearly completely captured by industry. Yes, more than half of the US congress will do pretty much whatever the phone and cable companies ask them to. Add the clout of Google, and you have near-complete control of Capitol Hill.
A non-neutral Internet means that companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Google can turn the Net into cable TV and pick winners and losers online. A problem just for Internet geeks? You wish. All video, radio, phone and other services will soon be delivered through an Internet connection. Ending Net Neutrality would end the revolutionary potential that any website can act as a television or radio network. It would spell the end of our opportunity to wrest access and distribution of media content away from the handful of massive media corporations that currently control the television and radio dial.
So the Google-Verizon deal can be summed up as this: “FCC, you have no authority over us and you’re not going to do anything about it. Congress, we own you, and we’ll get whatever legislation we want. And American people, you can’t stop us.
At one point in time, Google supported Net Neutrality and everyone believed the internet would be saved as long as they didn’t change their minds. Well, they have. At this point, one wonders if the FCC can ever regulate the internet, support Net Neutrality, and keep internet access at equal status. If they are to act in the public interest, the FCC must do so now instead of the endless hand-wringing that they have been doing.
There are still powerful people in Washington whose opinions can still be swayed. You don’t have to rely on one junior senator to do all the work for you. You can still help to try to stop this deal. You can go to Save the Internet or write your elected officials in Washington directly and join in the fight.