Google and Verizon announced Aug. 9 their much-anticipated plan for implementing their view of net neutrality. The CEOs of both companies, Eric Schmidt of Google and Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon, announced a plan that sticks closely to a statement of principles issued jointly in October 2009. The primary principle as stated by both companies is that users should have the final say on their Web experience.
Casting the joint statement as a "way to move forward" and calling for an end to what Schmidt called a "divisive debate," Google's CEO reiterated the message that preserving the open Internet is very important to Google. He also requested that reporters ignore last week's story in The New York Times, which he referred to as "completely wrong," and read the joint public policy proposal.
In addition to making their policy statement clear, the companies specifically and repeatedly said there was no business deal involved. The CEOs also repeated that there was no place for paid prioritization of content, and that while individual carriers could provide content to their own customers, such content should not take away bandwidth or otherwise degrade traffic on the open Internet.
Both companies called on the Federal Communications Commission to create enforceable rules ensuring an open Internet with significant penalties for what they referred to as "bad actors."
"We believe very strongly that the openness principles should be fully enforceable," Schmidt said.
Their plan would also provide enforceable prohibition of any move by an Internet provider against openness, Schmidt said. He said there would be no blocking or degrading, and paid prioritization would be against the law.
Verizon and Google also reaffirmed their belief that the Internet should remain open for any legal use and that private investment in the Internet needs to be encouraged through regulatory flexibility. For this reason, both companies have opposed overly detailed regulations that would reduce the ability of the Internet to evolve and could result in other unintended consequences. Finally, both companies repeated their belief that broadband network providers need to have the ability to manage their networks to deal with everything from spam and malware to traffic congestion and denial-of-service attacks.
The Aug. 9 announcement also repeated a call for transparency in proceedings of the FCC and other parties involved-something that has been notably lacking in the FCC's closed-door negotiations with a variety of Internet players.
The joint statement and the statements by Schmidt and Seidenberg also reiterated their belief that wireless communications should be included in the proposed net neutrality rules, although Seidenberg said he felt that the wireless arena was slightly different from the wire-line world, with different technology, a different state of competition and different interactive capabilities, and said he was concerned that too many rules would stifle competition.