Will Google sell out on net neutrality?

Google and Verizon are discussing a deal this week that could shift the balance of power over the Web, and end the sacred law of net neutrality that now governs the way content exists online.

The New York Times reports that the deal would allow Verizon to manage its broadband Internet network as it pleases (without Google challenging it), if Verizon promises to allow Google’s websites to load faster than other websites.

If these allegations are correct, the decision would set an historic president: opening the flood gates to giving Internet providers control over what loads quickly for users, and what lags – based on how much websites are willing to pay.  And because Google now takes speed into consideration when indexing its content, this would inevitably give Internet providers much of the power and discretion over what pops up at the top of Google searches.

The New York Times also reports that the decision could lead to replacing net neutrality with a pay-tier system similar to television, where consumers pay for access to higher premium levels of service.  In other words, some Youtube videos may be off-limits unless you buy the “Super Gold Roadrunner Premium Package.”

———-UPDATE———-

Google and Verizon both denied the NYT’s allegations today, saying that they do not plan to upend net neutrality.  But Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Wednesday that the two companies are meeting to come to an agreement on the definition of “net neutrality.”

“We have been talking to Verizon for a long time about trying to get an agreement on the definition of what net neutrality is. We’re trying to find solutions that bridge between the hardcore net neutrality view and the telecom view.”

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