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[ NNSquad ] Civility, Neutrality, and Google

                       Civility, Neutrality, and Google


Greetings.  It's now four days since Google and Verizon published
their joint policy proposal for an open Internet 
( http://bit.ly/cpO0bU [Google Public Policy Blog] ).  Today, Google 
posted an additional document, addressing what they view as the
misconceptions being promulgated in various negative reactions to the
plan ( http://bit.ly/aQKmQV [Google Public Policy Blog] ).

I am extremely disappointed.  

However, my disappointment is not with Google, nor Verizon.  I applaud
the willingness of both firms to put forth their public proposal.

Rather, I am disappointed -- no, that's not a strong enough word --
I'm mortified -- by the level of vitriol, obnoxiousness, obscenity,
and emotionally-laden, hyperbole-saturated rhetoric that is
characterizing many of the negative responses to the proposal.

Most of this abuse appears to be heaped on Google, not Verizon --
perhaps reflecting the fact that most pro-Net-Neutrality groups have
not held ISPs in particularly high esteem to begin with.

So Google is attracting the lion's share of attacks related to
displeasure over the proposal.  Calls of "They sold us out!" --
"They've gone evil!" -- "Google joins the Dark Side" -- and so on --
are mild compared to various of the obscenity-laced tirades that have
been appearing in some venues.

I'm about as solid a proponent of Net Neutrality and Open Internet
concepts as you'll find anywhere.  I like some aspects of the
Google/Verizon proposal, but I do have significant disagreements with
aspects of the plan, particularly relating to elements associated with
the suggested handling of wireless broadband and new differentiated
online services.

As I noted a couple of days ago ( http://bit.ly/9DXq69 [Lauren's Blog] ), 
it's clear that the Google/Verizon proposal -- and that's all it 
is -- concepts for consideration -- is largely the result of completely
understandable, prolonged frustration at the dangerously vacuous
status quo in the U.S. Internet broadband universe.

As far as I'm concerned, this policy debate -- regardless of where you
personally stand regarding the specific issues themselves -- is well
served by straightforward public proposals like the one from Google
and Verizon.  The reasoned discussions that such proposals can foster
are likely to be among the most important key components of any real,
positive progress on these crucial matters.

But if the reward for publicly putting forth such concepts in good
faith is mostly characterized by malevolent histrionic reactions --
rather than logical consideration of actual technical and policy
effects -- we risk relegating broadband, Internet policies to the same
virulent cesspool of political gamesmanship that has paralyzed the
U.S. on other important issues ranging from immigration to civil

We must approach these matters with our brains, not our hormones --
with civility, not vulgarity.  The former approaches may feel
viscerally satisfying for a short time -- but they can generally be
depended upon not to lead us toward solutions, but rather to march us
right off the cliff.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com)
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR (People For Internet Responsibility): http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, NNSquad (Network Neutrality Squad): http://www.nnsquad.org
Founder, GCTIP (Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance): 
Founder, PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein
Google Buzz: http://bit.ly/lauren-buzz