NYTimes had reported Google and Verizon were close to finalizing deal that would threaten open Web
Technology news fiends were likely quite astonished when they read the opening line to one New York Times article published on Wednesday:
"Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege."
If the report had been true, the real story would be, on top of the agreement, Google's complete reversal of its views on net neutrality.
But apparently there's just no truth in it, as both Google and Verizon have denied the validity of the deal.
"The New York Times is quite simply wrong," said a spokesman for Google. "We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open internet."
Verizon made a similar statement:
"The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect."
As long as it has inspired disagreements, network neutrality has always found a very powerful supporter in Google. In 2005, when a big new telecommunications bill threatened to give ISPs the ability to charge Web sites and services more to load at higher speeds, Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vinton Cerf (with support from other mega tech companies, like Yahoo!, Vonage, Ebay, Amazon, and Microsoft) sent a letter to Capitol Hill making the Mountain View company's perspective quite clear:
"The remarkable social impact and economic success of the Internet is in many ways directly attributable to the architectural characteristics that were part of its design. The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services. The Internet is based on a layered, end-to-end model that allows people at each level of the network to innovate free of any central control."
In testimony before Congress a year later, Google's views remained unchanged.
"Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success," said Cerf.
Nevertheless, Google and Verizon are indeed in talks right now about the future of the Internet and net neutrality. They and other large Internet and telecommunications companies are currently involved in an FCC hearing about just those subjects, in particular how online content should be regulated and administered.
Claims that Google cares no longer for net neutrality, however, are bogus.