Google, Verizon Net Neutrality Pact Still Under Fire, Protest


Roughly 100 people protested the agreement outside of Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters over the weekend upset that Google and Verizon want to treat wired Internet services differently from wireless and Internet traffic prioritization that could arise. The group of opponents to the Google-Verizon pact would herald an era of pay-to-play service.

"Companies like Google have benefited from a free and open internet and their plan will destroy that," James Rucker of, a consumer and public advocacy group that attended the protest, told the BBC. "They are talking about producing a fast lane, essentially a higher tier, for premium content that means if you want to play in the 21st Century internet you will have to pay."

The protested joined together in chants of "net neutrality is under attack, stand up and fight back" and "we demand our Internet rights, together we stand, together we fight."

The protest follows days of dissent after Google and Verizon unveiled their joint plan for the web. Google and Verizon called on legislators and the Federal Communications Commission to keep the Internet open but offered suggestions on alternate services, like wireless and others, where content providers could pay to receive prioritization over service providers' networks.

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Google and Verizon last week agreed to a set of rules for the Internet and outlined a plan that called for open access to the Internet and consumer protections in sending and receiving content. But the initiative also proposed that Internet service providers should be allowed to undertake "reasonable network management" to reduce network congestion to enforce security and "best practices adopted by an independent, widely-recognized Internet community governance imitative or standard-setting organization."

The plan added that if broadband providers adhere to the rules and don't discriminate against lawful traffic, they could offer additional and differentiating services apart from just Internet access that leverage content, applications and other services that could include traffic prioritization.

Meanwhile, the plan gives the FCC the power to enforce the broadband regulations and levy fines of up to $2 million against providers that violate them, but the FCC would not set such rules.

The Google-Verizon plan has raised another wrinkle in the thorny net neutrality debate -- an initiative designed to ensure all web traffic is treated equally -- prompting consumers and advocacy groups to uncover a host of "gotchas" contained in Verizon's and Google's plan.

"It is conceivable under the agreement that a network provider could devote 90 percent of its broadband capacity to these priority services and 10 percent to the best efforts Internet," Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest group, told CNET. "If managed services are allowed to cannibalize the best efforts Internet, whatever protections are agreed to for the latter become, for all intents and purposes, meaningless."

At the protest at Google's headquarters, protestors blamed both Google and Verizon, and also urged the FCC to squash the plan.

"The FCC is sitting on their hands," protestor Christine Springer told the BBC. "They are hoping nobody will notice but unless we make a lot of noise the corporate giants will prevail. The job of the FCC is to regulate not negotiate with giant corporations."

And protestor Martha Champion, who reports indicated wore a heavy black Victorian costume that looked more funeral garb than protest gear, added: "I am in mourning for the death of the Internet and believe this plan will lock out those that can't afford to pay a premium for their content to load faster or for their site to go quickly."