Wireless Google May Also Come with Strings Attached

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-04-10 Print this article Print

European cell phone giant Vodafone Group is using a new, more powerful content filter, which may be cause for alarm for Google.

What Vodafone's rolling out now in theory lets it collect from Google the same kind of user fee recently proposed by U.S. wired broadband network owners. These companies argue that Google's such a heavily used feature, it's choking off their bandwidth. So Google should pay them something, perhaps based on how much of the pipe its customers take up. 

The new wrinkle here is Vodafone is a cell phone operator, a type of business rarely heard from on this issue of Net neutrality. (For more on Net neutrality, point a Web browser here.) So just how Vodafone will behave going forward is somewhat uncharted and very interesting territory.

Vodafone says it'll never use the filters to charge Google or others fees, and to think so is reading too much into the situation. The firm is simply using the filters to block kids from seeing porn and other illicit material.

"We are meeting our social mandate," said a spokesperson.

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