SANTA MONICA, CA — Google is compromising a long standing principle it claimed to support in an effort to boost profits as it backs away from a key premise of an open Internet — “net neutrality,” Consumer Watchdog said today.
Net neutrality — the idea that all data is treated equally by Internet service providers — is a key principle of the Internet. Google has long claimed to be an advocate of the principle. Today both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported that Google and Verizon are close to a deal that would let Verizon speed some online content more quickly to Internet users if content providers paid for the privilege.
Wednesday Google Chairman offered a new definition of net neutrality. Speaking at a technology symposium in Lake Tahoe, he said: “I want to make sure that everybody understands what we mean about it. What we mean is that if you have one data type, like video, you don’t discriminate against one person’s video in favor of another. It’s OK to discriminate across different types…”
“Apparently Google redefines principles to suit the business need of the moment,” said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with the nonpartisan, nonprofit group. “Google and Verizon have great incentive to cut deals because of the relationship between their rivals, Apple and AT&T. What Google and Verizon are trying to do is carve up the Internet behind closed doors for their own benefit.”
Consumer Watchdog said that net neutrality has always meant that all types of data are treated equally by an Internet service provider. Net neutrality should apply to both the wired and wireless Internet, the nonprofit, nonpartisan group said.
Meanwhile, a national poll released by Consumer Watchdog found that a significant majority of Americans are troubled by recent revelations that Google’s Street View cars gathered communications from home WiFi networks, and they want stronger legal protection to preserve their online privacy.
While Google received an overall 74% favorable rating, nearly two-thirds of those polled (65%) say the Wi-Spy scandal is one of the things that “worries them most” or a “great deal” with another 20% saying it “raises some concern” when considering Internet issues.
The poll, conducted for Consumer Watchdog by Grove Insight, Ltd., found a solid majority (55%) is also bothered (“one of the most” or “great deal”) by Google’s cooperation with the National Security Agency without saying what information is being shared. Even more voters call for Congressional hearings on “Google’s gathering data from home WiFi networks and its sharing of information with U.S. spy agencies like the National Security Administration, the NSA” (69% favor, 19% oppose).
Read Grove Ltd.’s poll analysis here: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/MemInternetPrivacy-0727101.pdf
Read the poll’s topline results here: http://insidegoogle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/wfreInternet.release1.pdf
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Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca. Consumer Watchdog’s website is http://www.consumerwatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://insidegoogle.com.