August 9, 2010

Tightrope: No Wire, Shredded Net (The Google-Verizon Deal)

Filed under: Internet Democracy, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , , — Russ @ 4:00 pm


After disputed news reports last week, today Google and Verizon announced their “deal”, a set of promises to guide their own behavior going forward and a proposal for legislation.
Although the plan has lots of nice words about net neutrality, non-discrimination, investment in infrastructure expansion, and transparency, it’s all predicated on a basic scam.
This scam is that they fraudulently claim wireless and landline transmission are fundamentally different and need to be treated differently. Specifically,  they say that since wireless is allegedly so new and radical, lots of study and learning from experience will allegedly be needed before we can know the right policy. If anyone actually believed this, one would think the precautionary principle would be indicated, and that this inscrutable new frontier should receive the same guiding principle of net neutrality which was so benevolent in the evolution of the Internet itself. But no, for Verizon and Google, somehow this time around we should meet uncertainty by doing the exact opposite.
That doesn’t meet the smell test, even if we believed that wireless is all that new and different. But that’s in fact a lie anyway. There’s no reason at all to treat wireless transmission differently from wireline. This is a bogus distinction meant to carry out a vast bait and switch. The legislative proposal is a classic exercise in “what we give with one hand, we take away with the other.”
The proposal has seven points. The gist of points one and two is that Verizon concedes, indeed celebrates, net neutrality and vigorous FCC authority – but for landline only. This is because Verizon and the other telecoms think wireline is headed for the antique shop, while all future action will be wireless. So every “concession” in the deal is, from their point of view, a meaningless pseudo-concession since it regards something they regard as almost obsolete, while it doesn’t touch what they think is the wave of the future.
Point three calls for transparency. This is the only point of the legislative proposal they would let apply to wireless. 
Point four indicate that the vigorous FCC ain’t supposed to exercise so much vigor where it comes to judging complaints regarding wireless discrimination. Here, the legislative proposal calls for the FCC to be stripped of rule-making authority, and to instead have to deal with things case by case, each decision an island.
Point five brings us to the gutting of net neutrality,the VIP lane. Providers are to be empowered to set up “additional, differentiated online services.” In their conference call, Verizon CEO Seidenberg promised that Verizon won’t offer transmission regular Internet stuff over the VIP channel, just special entertainments, games, health care applications and such, while Eric Schmidt promised that Google won’t be using the VIP lane at all. Seidenberg also said the rackets will undertake all necessary capacity expansion for the Open Internet so that the investment starvation and bottleneck scenario won’t come to pass the way I and many others suspect. Never mind that they’ve been refusing to undertake any expansion except with massive subsidies for overa decade now.
These are lovely promises, and I’m sure we can trust them once the FCC surrenders completely, once Congress gives the rackets carte blanche, once we’re at their mercy. Does everybody agree we can trust to their mercy?
Point six simply asserts that wireless is a totally new thing which needs totally new practices and rules. This is the basic lie anchoring the deal, rendering all the promises irrelevant.
What they really want for wireless, which they expect to be the dominant mode of Internet transmission going forward: “Paid prioritization”, i.e. the end of net neutrality; no systematic FCC authority; on the contrary a privatized judiciary to sort out all Internet issues. This private arbitration scheme would simply enshrine a permanent session of the elitist closed door meetings the FCC was just forced to adjourn by the wave of public outrage which met the initial news of precisely this Google-Verizon deal. So we’re being whiplashed in a matter of days from a bottom-up surge on behalf of net neutrality and transparency to what’s expected to be a meek submission to the permanent enshrinement of exactly what we condemn.
We started the year demanding permanent formal enshrinement of net neutrality; we’re slated to conclude with the permanent formal enshrinement of the radical opposite.
What boggles the mind in all this, and even more the moral imperative, is that we the people built the Internet; we paid for it; it belongs to US. How did we get to this extremity of abjection and servility, how did we again end up squirming under the filthy thumb of a handful of gangsters? Once again, it was a criminal government which has committed treason against us, alienating our property, alienating our sovereignty, murdering our democracy.
And now the killers have tracked down the last heir to the democratic heritage, the child Internet Democracy. Can any guardian arise to defend this child from their knives? There can only be one, we the people have to guard our child.

1 Comment

  1. […] of the Internet, not fixed line. Therefore this acquisition seems to be on the same wavelength as the Google-Verizon deal to gut net neutrality for wireless. Everyone who has the muscle is staking a monopoly claim on this pre-enclosed […]

    Pingback by The Internet and Its Two Kinds of Monopoly « Volatility — August 30, 2010 @ 9:10 am

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