The current net neutrality battle has almost made Tom Wheeler a household name, especially after HBO satirist John Oliver, compared him to a dingo. After an interviewer asked him if he had watched the skit in a public meeting, the Federal Communications Chairmen quipped “I would like to state for the record that I am not a dingo” and pointed out that the skit showed the “high level of interest in the topic”.
John Oliver’s viewers obediently took to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website and inundated the server with over 22,000 comments that weekend.
Even though the forum generated 3.7 million comments, the FCC has remained mum about the issue of net neutrality.Tim-Burners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, compared the ploy that ISP’s want to implement as a form of bribery.
And while internet companies have galvanized their voice with internet users, Google has recently been accused of not taking a strong enough position against Internet Service Providers (ISP’s).
On September 10th, some of the largest internet companies donned an incessant loading symbol in a silent protest that led users to the FCC website. Netflix, Tumblr, and Reddit were just some of the websites that showcased the widget, but most notably missing among them was Google, the default search engine for many users. Google accounts for approximately 66% of search inquiries and its absence in the silent protest marks a missed opportunity that would have garnered more FCC comments.
Google’s search engine has become a micro-history channel with its featured doodle’s paying tribute to many prominent historical figures. The browser has previously leveraged its influence during the 2012 SOPA protests against copyright laws that would have censored the internet.
But this time around, Google’s home page stayed neutral on the issue of net neutrality. Some have even accused Google of flip flopping around the issue of net neutrality.
Google’s membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) unsettles pro-net neutrality advocates for they fear that ALEC’s anti-net neutrality stance is influencing Google’s ambivalence.
Even though Google has not stated whether it would like to turn the internet into a public utility as pro-net neutrality groups hope to accomplish, Google’s email to the FCC still shows its disagreement over FCC’s current revision that could potentially allow ISP’s to charge more for ‘faster network lanes.
In an e-mail addressed to the FCC, Google related its concern that “If Internet access providers can block some services and cut special deals that prioritize some companies’ content over others, that would threaten the innovation that makes the Internet awesome.”
If Internet service providers do in fact, gain the ability to “cut special deals” on broadband prices that are already bloated, pro-net neutrality groups fear that start ups and small businesses would be the most affected, especially after taking into account that these companies were started with limited budgets in an environment where the concept of digital segregation did not even exist.
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