Google Inc. and Verizon Communications have found themselves in a PR nightmare after news broke alleging that the two companies are meeting to change the “net neutrality” rules that govern the Web.
Both companies immediately denied the accusations –Verizon released a blog post; Google released a tweet. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt had already admitted earlier in the week that the two companies are meeting “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,” Schmidt said at the Techonomy Conference, a day before the NYT story broke.
Net Neutrality has historically functioned as the Internet’s most golden principle, which advocates no restriction on any online content or communication by Internet Providers and governments. This also includes purposely slowing down access to some websites, while speeding up access to websites that are willing to pay.
The New York Times article alleged that Google and Verizon were working out a deal that “could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.”
As soon as the story broke, the FCC immediately canceled all closed-door meetings related to regulating Internet traffic and establishing net neutrality, according to The Wall Street Journal. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he thought the deal undermines broader issues.
“Any outcome, any deal that doesn’t preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet for consumers and entrepreneurs will be unacceptable,” he told reporters.
The FCC, watchdog organizations and even some companies directly affiliated with Google now stand ready to challenge any Google-Verizon agreement that involves paying different prices for faster transmission speeds.