As others have chronicled, the people who brought you “Net Neutrality Is In Its Last Throes” and “Deregulated Telecoms Will Be Greeted As Liberators” have now launched a new campaign based on the highly successful tools of this administration and the conservative noise machine generally. This is perhaps unsurprising given the paucity of arguments the anti-net neutrality folks have at this point.
The fear of Google is attractive. Any huge entity attracts concern, and rightly so. I’m pleased that Google has “don’t be evil” as a credo, and that by and large it has done a good job sticking to that. But they are a large corporation like any other, and if they become convinced that something contrary to the public interest is in their best financial interest, I know which way to bet. For this reason, you find a number of perfectly reasonable folks, such as industry observer Robert Cringley (whose push for local ownership of infrastructure hardly makes him a telco or cable enthusiast) is now worried that Google has accumulated a sufficient mass of resources to take over the internet the same way Microsoft took over the desk top.
Please note that this has nothing to do with network neutrality. In fact, if Google really did have an evil plan to leverage its network assets and services to dminate the internet, thelast they would want would be network neutrality. Network neutrality means treating everyone equal, so if Google became the uber-Tier 1 carrier — what Cringley alleges is Google’s ultimate plan — the last thing Google would want would be a requirement to carry everyone’s traffic equally. It would be like Microsoft fighting to keep its monopoly by making the GNU GPL mandatory for all desktop operating systems.
But, as the current Administration has discovered, we don’t need logic. We just need a big old cloud of anxiety and the power of repetition. If you fear Iran and its nuclear ambitions, you must support a surge in Iraq , because Iran supports U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and Iran has nuclear ambitions. If you fear Google invading your privacy or dominating net applications, you must fear network neutrality, because Google supports network neutrality and they’re big and scary. Network neutrality is a plot by Google to take over the internet, because Google wants to take over the internet and they like network neutrality. And did we mention they’re big and scary? Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggg and scaaaaarrrrrrryyyyy!!!! And they like network neutrality. So Network neutrality is scary and bad, like Google, but without the “I’m feeling lucky!” button.
Mind you, you can find plenty of examples of this kind of logic in the mainstream media. You can see this amazing (as always) clip of Stephen Colbert demonstrating how the mainstream media uses this technique on Barack Obama. In a world where the mainstream media apparently believes that voters will make their decision on whether his middle name is Hossein or whether his “business casual look” is too much like Iranian President and fashion plate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, we can expect the cable cos and telcos to push the link between Google, net neutrality, and Al Qeda
I’ve been at Media Access Project snce 1999. Long enough to remember when America Online and the telcos supported not just network neutrality, but “open access” (letting ISP resell broadband capacity). A fair number of folks accused open access supporters of being AOL shills or tools of the telcos. But after AOL merged with Time Warner, and Michael “deregulate them all and God will know his own” Powell took over the FCC, the companies that had backed open access switched sides. But the public interest community, including MAP, kept fighting the same fight (which has now morphed into the ‘net neutrality’ fight) long after the industry folks switched sides or dropped out.
As I have said many times before, citizen movements must stay citizen driven. Corporations will act in their best interest. They will spend money if they think it will help them earn more money. But that’s as far as they go.
You can’t get a million people or more in this overworked, busy 24/7 world to fight for something — in the face of a continued barrage of advertising, push-polling and the pervasive corrosive cynicism that you can never hope to win in our corrupt political system against the corporate powers that be — unless they believe in it. And you can’t get people to believe in it — especially in the face of the barrage of misinformation — unless there is really something to it. Especially when we are talking about a geeky technical policy issue that no one outside Washington ever heard of a year ago.
So yeah, Google supports network neutrality, and for their own reasons. But chosing to support or not support a cause because Google does is about as stupid as deciding whether or not to vote for Obama because both he and Ahmadinejad hate ties.
For the record, I hate ties too, and I support network neutrality. Just like Obama supports network neutrality. So I guess I must have links to Ahmadinejad. Hopefully, this will not scare away too many readers. But for those unafraid of the frightenng link between network neutrality, me, Barack Obama, and Ahmadinejad,
Stay tuned . . . .