Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Google Confusion

I have never claimed to be a super political person, in fact if you read my limited postings on Politics you will see that I state this frequently. I often find myself getting fired up about politically motivated issues but not having the cause or place to pour my passion into. Lately my soap box has frequently involved Network Neutrality. Yes, I'm still on this.

Today I had the time to read through Google's Public Policy blog in an attempt to better understand their latest announcement regarding a joint proposal with Verizon. To be honest, I'm still not so thrilled with Google and I am still seriously contemplating a breakup - I've already started researching alternative services and ways to migrate my life away from them.

In their post summarizing the proposal Google frequently references how the proposal would require the FCC to do this, or allow the FCC to do that. There is so much that I don't understand (and I mean, really don't understand - as in, if you can help me to better understand this, please comment or email me because I really do want to understand) so I'm going to try to break it down.

  1. Why is the FCC so heavily involved? Network Neutrality is a global, international issue. So much of our current culture as a global community depends on our connection to each other via the Internet. The concept of keeping the Internet an open media requires that ALL governments keep their involvement to a minimum. Now I'm not naive, I understand that the US was the driving force behind the internet. The technological breakthroughs that allowed it to grow so quickly all happened here, many if not most of the main servers and connection points for the internet lie in the US. I also understand that the data that makes up the www travels over pipelines and that ultimately those virtual highways are either owned, maintained or subsidized by the US government. That said, someone from the US Gov't should be involved. However if you research the FCC's history, budget and responsibilities - I'm not so sure that they are the ones to do it....
  2. Why are Google and Verizon telling the FCC what to do? Here is an example
    "...both companies have long been proponents of the FCC’s current wireline broadband openness principles... Our proposal would now make those principles fully enforceable at the FCC"
    How is it that two major corporations can tell the government what to do? Shouldn't there be some sort of vote, or process before this happens? How a company go from being such a strong proponent of Open Source and User Controlled to thinking it is their place to dictate legislation confuses me.
  3. Why isn't this magical Proposal available to the public? The language in the Proposal summary and Google's response to it are both vague. I've searched and been unable to find the actual Proposal - at this point all we know is what Google is telling us.
  4. What can I do to learn more and encourage legislation to move in a direction that I believe in? I've sent the letters, I've joined the support groups and email groups. I still haven't been told of any action I can take, any activity I can participate in to help raise awareness and make my opinion known.
From what I can read - it's complicated. I need more information to decide - expect more to come.

4 comments:

studio42 said...

Google and Verizon aren't telling the FCC what to do. Their proposal is just a suggestion for how the government should handle the issue of network neutrality. As far as I can tell, the government has been staring at the issue for years now and has not come up with anything. So, in an effort to speed the process up, these two large companies joined together to create a proposal for congress to review and consider. Already, though, some of our representatives are criticizing the proposal, saying that it makes no sense to take advice from companies with a vested interest in the outcome (as if the government doesn't have interests of its own). See below for more:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/17/markey_doyle_eshoo_inslee_letter/

According to Google, if Bright House said tomorrow that it was going to charge extra for access to any social media site, there's nothing that the government could do about it, no way to enforce neutrality. So Google and Verizon are proposing some rules. This would at least give the FCC jurisdiction to enforce neutrality.

( "At this time there are no enforceable protections – at the Federal Communications Commission or anywhere else – against even the worst forms of carrier discrimination against Internet traffic." See Google's blog:
http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2010/08/facts-about-our-network-neutrality.html )

The only thing I see in their proposal that I DON'T like is that their proposed rules do not extend to wireless networks (e.g. your smart phone), only to wired internet connections. They claim it's because the wireless world is still evolving and changing so much that we can't pin down rules for it yet. This is hard to swallow from a company that developed smart phone software and another company who distributes and services smart phones.

studio42 said...

I thought it worth mentioning that you could come up with your own proposal for how the government should be handled, and submit it to as many congressman as you can reach. Unfortunately, it wouldn't have as much impact, since Google and Verizon are both huge corporations with strong public presences, and you are just an opinionated woman...

ButterflySunshine said...

Thanks for the input.

How do you know so much?

ButterflySunshine said...

So, wait, why did Google have to partner with Verizon? Why couldn't they have done this on their own? Also, why is this information so hard to find? Being that Google is so pro open source why haven't they spelled this out clearly in an easy to find local?