Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Is Google pulling a Net Neutrality Head fake?

Drew Clark has a great piece today on GigaOm entitled: Is Google Changing Its Position on Net Neutrality?

Basically, Google's
Senior Policy Counsel, Andrew McLaughlin, made some comments that he thought the FCC should be "cut out" of enforcing Net Neutrality regarding the Cable providers vs. the Telcos, and that it should be the domain of the FTC (!) This is a big deal, because both pieces of pending Net Neutrality legislation squarely place the FCC in charge of enforcing the issue. Evidentially, some at Google feel that it's OK to differentiate between charging for various different "services" (which could ultimately all be IP packets) as long as its charged to the end user and not to them.

These comments come from a Tech Summit held in San Jose and came on the heels of those made by Google's TV chief to cable operators in Europe about how the web and Google's infrastructure couldn't scale to support IPTV. Both comments are still reverberating across the web.

I must admit it's refreshing to see that I'm not the only one who sees a connection (or in this case, a dis-connection) between Google's Net Neutrality lobbying efforts and their new overtures to partner with Cable/Satellite television. The concern stems form the idea that in a converged, digital, world all data is ultimately the same ... already we've seen the erosion of distinction between a "TV service provider" and a "Phone service provider" - both are merely bringing "bit streams" and/or "packets" into your home. It's just the pipes, or delivery mechanisms, that differ

Perhaps there's no conspiracy or "head fake" fake here at all, but the perception lingers. Forgivably, Google is a big "for profit" institution with a lot smart & talented people driving it. Perhaps we're seeing an internal struggle play-out as their growth motives intersect and perhaps conflict with their idealistic, yet official Company position on the matter.

1 comment:

HandsOff said...

I work with and would be interested in hearing how Google reconciles McLaughlin's desire to "[cut] the FCC out the picture" yet still supports Dorgan-Snowe, which places the FCC in the role of chief regulator.