Spaniard bloggers have been very busy discussing and arguing about the recent Google-Verizon proposed policy for an open Internet. Most of them are against it because they consider it a very delicate subject because of the not so distant issue of the Sinde discussion when, “the Spanish Government announced at the beginning of December 2009 a proposal that may lead to shutting down websites that offer P2P file sharing of music and films, without the necessity of a court order.“
But some of you may not fully understand what Net Neutrality is all about, so we suggest that you take a look at this short video “that explains why discrimination on the Internet is a problem and will continue to be as long as net neutrality rules are not enforced“:
Rosa Jiménez Cano, a Spanish journalist and blogger wrote for the newspaper El País in an article called ¿Quién quiere acabar con la neutralidad en la Red? (Who wants to end net neutrality?):
What would you think if, when you open the faucet, the water reached your neighbor before you? And if paying an extra fee would allow somebody to see the goals of a match before anyone else? Or better yet, what if the electricity network gave preference to some appliances over others, so it could decide that the toaster has priority over a hairdryer or microwave? It sounds illogical, but it could be possible in the web.
It is true that a person can hire a different service of 3 megabytes or 10, for example. But that's not a competitive advantage. Following the faucet analogy, he would have pipes with more water flow, but water wouldn’t reach somebody before the rest. Or at least should not be given priority in the content queue. Simply, they will load faster because you have more bandwidth.
Last week, The New York Times leaked a meeting between Verizon (mobile operator) and Google in which they considered the possibility of an agreement between the two companies for priority access to certain content and services from Google. It would be logical, as YouTube (owned by Google) manages large amounts of data. Both companies were quick to deny it.
Another journalist, Juan Varela, is following the development of the issue in his blog Periodistas 21 with a post called Neutralidad de la red, no en las plataformas (Net neutrality, not the platforms):
Google and Verizon have finally submitted its proposal on net neutrality. The big search site and the telecommunications operator defend an open and public Internet, but exclude mobile networks of the principle of neutrality, as well as new digital platforms for advanced or premium service.
In short, they respect and adhere to the six principles of net neutrality by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but exclude mobile broadband and new digital platforms, which they have called Additional Online Services.
Everything indicates that the completely open Internet, with it’s Information is free mantra is ending. The new Internet will be more akin to paid TV. A plotted Internet with its plentiful market trimmed … The key will be to set the minimum and open Internet service. A universal civil right for everybody -innovators, entrepreneurs, companies, groups, associations, etc.-, without discrimination, to avoid ending its ability to socialize, to communicate, [share] ideas, politics, business and information that it has had so far.
But also there are some bloggers that do like the agreement. Daniel Rodríguez Herrera, writing for Libertad Digital finds it surprising that activists are talking about “an Internet for rich people and another one for poor people“. He also says:
On one hand, it keeps any type of traffic on the Internet from being blocked, or prioritized or anything like that. In other words, it eliminates that apocalyptic scenario, that bogeyman that scared neutrality activists. But on the other hand it allows companies to use their networks to offer other services different and separated from the Internet, both paid and unpaid; in other words, it lets them innovate to lead a return on their investments by taking these networks to our home. Also, it recognizes that on mobile networks things are fairly new and it proposes to leave them as they are, for now.
My main criticism of this agreement is that it is a proposal for the state to regulate the Internet.Governments should keep their dirty hands off the web, always and at all times, and leave it open as it has been so far.
Now, the activist's reaction is what has been really appealing. This agreement should represent their wet dream: one of the main companies commits to Internet still functioning like it has today, without blocking or paying priorities …. Since I don't think that the majority of neutrality activists are dumb, the only conclusion that I'm capable of reaching is that they have never attempted to avoid a [type] of traffic from being prioritized over another or anything similar to that. What they want is to be able to decide for themselves, through the Government, like networks that are the private property of a company should be managed.
Finally, there are positions like the one sustained by the blogger from error500, Antonio Ortíz, who with the name of his post: Google a la neutralidad de la red: “Quedamos como amigos” (Google toward net neturality: “Let's be friends”) gives us an idea of what he's going to say:
Finally, we should already be able to answer the question, does Google remain “one of us”? Have they betrayed the principles that underpinned its own development or have they sold out themselves to telecoms and Alierta doctrine? As some say with some relationships, “it's complicated.”
It is complicated because Google has maturity problems. It still loves the story of its teenage years, everything from “do not be evil”, “we love being open”, “life is not going to change us, we are not like others”. But it also begins to accept some adjustments to its principles with the reality of the markets. Its proposal reflects this dual soul of internet giant on net neutrality: they swear that they do not accept traffic discrimination by the companies in favor of who pays more, they believe in an “open internet”, they will never pay Verizon or any other provider for priority of its services over any other small startup. But of course there are exceptions to understand this so much openness and neutrality.
It is a way to break up as any other. “It's not you, it's me”, “I need some time”… at Google they have chosen a kind of “we’re still friends.” Those who expected a complete betrayal will feel somewhat disappointed, those who thought about a frontal or Byzantine resistance to telecommunications and some governments, even more. It will be the penance Google will have to pay: its previous traveling companions will identify it as a traitor in spite of its many good NGO children's rhetoric, its new allies will not hide the satisfaction to certify that, over time, Google and they are able to speak the same language
As an old song used to say… “only time will tell”.