Capital Briefs

Google keeps low profile in support of net neutrality

This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.

WASHINGTON — Following criticism from progressive groups for its low-profile support of net neutrality over the past several years, Google recently emailed supporters attempting to kill doubts on where it stood on the issue.

When Internet companies and advocacy groups protested in favor of net neutrality earlier this month, Google encouraged supporters via its “Take Action” list on Sept. 10 to use social media to promote net neutrality — the principle that Internet service providers should treat all traffic on the Internet equally.

Cloud companies and their progressive allies have been fighting for over a decade with Internet service providers and free market advocates over whether the Federal Communications Commission should enforce net neutrality through regulation. Both sides threaten higher prices for consumers and stifled innovation if their opponents get their way.

Google had come under fire from progressive advocacy groups nearly a week before the online protest occurred for its membership with the free market organization American Legislative Exchange Council, which opposes net neutrality regulations.

Politico Pro reported that Google’s email didn’t call for turning broadband services into a public utility, unlike what many of pro-net neutrality advocates were calling for that day. The language of the email, however, did mirror the ideas of advocates favoringregulating broadband as a public utility.

“If Internet access providers can block some services and cut special deals that prioritize some companies’ content over others, that would threaten the innovation that makes the Internet awesome,” said Google.

Google’s voice in the net neutrality movement has been an important one for advocates, and its decision to keep a lower profile this time around was noticed by allies and critics alike. Progressive groups attempted to pressure Google into withdrawing its membership from ALEC, questioning whether the free market organization wasinfluencing Google to waiver in its support.

Net neutrality supporters welcomed the company’s Sept. 10 email. Yet, despite the concerns of net neutrality supporters, Google has been anything but silent over the past year.

In May, Google had signed on to a letter to the FCC with 147 other Internet companies expressing support for stronger net neutrality rules than what the Commission is currently considering.

“Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission’s rules should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent,” said the companies.

“These rules should provide certainty to all market participants and keep the costs of regulation low,” said the companies.

Google didn’t respond to Watchdog.org’s request for comment.


Sign Up