The Internet is screwed.
Net Neutrality could very well be another idealized concept that is about to be thrown out with the bathwater. At least that is what is being reported in the Wall Street Journal Online. According to Vishesh Kumar and Christopher Rhoads the big boys who agreed a few years ago to support Net Neutrality have been quietly pulling out of their little club. Microsoft and Yahoo has been forging partnerships with the phone and cable companies on the sly.
But word has it though, that Google has also been approaching major players in both areas with a proposal to create a fast lane for their own content – in other words screw everyone else. Now as bad as this might sound it is nothing to the turn around by Professor Lawrence Lessig on net neutrality. He is quoted in the article as saying
“There are good reasons to be able to prioritize traffic,” Mr.. Lessig said later in an interview. “If everyone had to pay the same rates for postal service, than you wouldn’t be able to differentiate between sending a greeting card to your grandma versus sending an overnight letter to your lawyer.”
Eh tu Professor?
While we can expect corporate greed to be the driving force behind the actions of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to dismantle the basic concept of what the Internet is about in order to increase their profit margins this doesn’t explain Lessig’s capitulation. After all this is the man behind the Creative Commons movement. This is the man who said he wanted to change the way Congress behaves – an open government. This is the man that is best buds with the Prez to be and is rumoured to be in line for an appointment of some sort at the FCC.
Oh wait a minute … it’s becoming a little clearer now. Soften one’s stance on net neutrality and you to can get a cushy government job. Well we all understand how that game is played. So even though Obama spoke many times during the election about how important net neutrality is we have Lessig on the left and Schmidt on the right of President-in-waiting Obama both of whom seem to think it’s okay if net neutrality gets dismantled.
As Om Malik said in a post about this news
Given how close President-elect Obama is to the current Google management, I can only fear the worst. Many startups might skip over this issue, which I constantly bring up, but they need to wake up and realize that in the end they are all going to be impacted if network neutrality is backstabbed to death. If Google can buy better performance for its service, your web app might be at a disadvantage. If the cost of doing business means paying baksheesh to the carriers, then it is the end of innovation as we know it.
Even though Om has updated his original post with news that Google is not abandoning net neutrality I think that the real story here is the fact that Professor Lessig is moving away from it. I am sure his worshippers will jump all over this spouting off how wrong I am but read it for yourselves. He states that it would be okay to prioritize internet traffic.
That is kissing off net neutrality no matter how you slice it.
Thanks Professor – for nothing.