Google, Verizon collaborate on net neutrailty proposal


— 4:31 PM on August 9, 2010

Engadget has the goods on a net neutrality legal framework proposed by Google and Verizon. Google's Public Policy Blog lays out seven key elements of the proposal, the first two of which I've quoted below.

First, both companies have long been proponents of the FCC’s current wireline broadband openness principles, which ensure that consumers have access to all legal content on the Internet, and can use what applications, services, and devices they choose. The enforceability of those principles was called into serious question by the recent Comcast court decision. Our proposal would now make those principles fully enforceable at the FCC.

Second, we agree that in addition to these existing principles there should be a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices. This means that for the first time, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition.

ISPs would be permitted to engage in "reasonable network management," of course, but they must do so in accordance with "best practices adopted by an independent, widely-recognized Internet community governance initiative or standard-setting organization." Fair enough.

Despite what looks like a generally pro-consumer set of principles, the framework makes an exception for wireless broadband services. Google and Verizon argue that this fast-changing market is more competitive than the world of wired broadband, and that only their transparency principle should apply, at least for now. Transparency requires that ISPs provide "accurate and relevant information in plain language" about the services they offer. The US Government Accountability Office would then be charged with monitoring whether wireless consumers are being sufficiently protected by existing policies.

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