Google came out swinging against claims that it made an about-face on net neutrality by announcing a partnership with Verizon. "We don't expect everyone to agree with every aspect of our proposal, but there have been a number of inaccuracies about it, and we do want to separate fact from fiction, " the company wrote Thursday on its Public Policy Blog.
The company's five-point rebuttal includes debunking claims that they've "sold out" on net neutrality ("No company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet"); left the door wide open for wireless deregulation ("In the spirit of compromise, we have agreed to a proposal that allows this market to remain free from regulation, for now"); and have become too chummy with Verizon because of their shared stakes in the Android smartphone, which is offered by Verizon and runs on a Google operating system.
It's a defensive, but well-timed, posture. Advocates of net neutrality--including those who say regulation is essential to ensure people of color have equal access to the cyber-waves--are planning a big protest outside of Google headquarters tomorrow in Mountain View, Calif. And for those who can't make the noon rally, organizers are asking angry users to post pictures to Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr by using the tag #evilgoogle.
"Letters and phone calls simply aren't enough to protest Google's and Verizon's side plot to take over the Internet," writes Megan Tady at Save the Internet. "We need Google to see our outrage in person."
The groups sponsoring the event, which include ColorofChange.org, Credo Action, MoveOn.org, and Free Press, have also circulated petitions asking the company to stand by its "don't be evil" motto and drop the Verizon proposal. More than 300,000 people have reportedly signed the petitions.
D.C. Narrows on Broadband
Is the Washington Post right to say that support for broadband is losing speed?
It certainly has in the wonky world of Washington politics.
This week Congress voted to rescind $300 million of the Obama administration's $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds--an allotment that was once hailed as an ambitious investment in the country's technological future. They appear to be in step with voters: A new Pew Center study found that more than half of the country doesn't think broadband expansion should be a national priority, at least ahead of unemployment.
It's important to note that the Pew Center study did find that a significant number--41 percent--said that federal expansion of broadband was an important national priority. And many of those who didn't think so were non-users over the age of 50, who still didn't see how the Internet could be useful.
If Google's aim is to get the ball rolling in the debate, it's been a success. Tomorrow's rally should be a good barometer of the battle to come.