August 09, 2010

"Net Neutrality" - deals, pawns, catspaws, and the jumping of sharks

For the recent news of Google and Verizon cutting a deal, err, I meant, announcing "A joint policy proposal for an open Internet" I'll make an exception to my practice of staying OUT of "Net Neutrality". I'm going to poke my head up today, since I suspect that those who might be inclined to slam me from "on high" in order to score a few cheap attention-points in the punditry game, are going to be too shell-shocked right now for that to matter to them.

As I put it above, a while back:

This whole issue is driven by a fight between content-providers versus telecommunications companies over who will pay for the cost of upgrades to network infrastructure. The telecommunications companies want to pit the content-providers against each other, essentially in an auction for best service, and hence extract more money. The content-providers don't want to play that game, and want to make sure the telecommunications companies can't even try it.

This is worth BILLIONS of dollars, and both parties know it. You can see the lobbying money in all the astroturf and camp-followers. But it's got nothing to do with freedom, democracy, or making little girls cry because their website is slow.

"Net Neutrality" peaked today. I don't mean that it's "over". But now is a watershed moment when some driving interests behind it - that battle between enormous corporations - have reached a compromise among themselves. Everyone, welcome to the moment when the pawns and the catspaws (that's you) have served their purpose, and are shortly to revert back to being ignored ranters on blogs, mailing-lists, and in obscure academic publications. The civil-libertarians are about to be, if not exactly cut loose, regarded as no longer useful.

And personally, I am extremely happy not to have donated my time and energy to Google. Google is not your friend. Google is not your buddy. Google is a mammoth company with multibillion-dollar interests. A corporation will not hesitate to use and discard free-speech arguments as part of its lobbying, abandoning them whenever convenient. I hope all the people who volunteered to be unpaid lobbyists have derived a deep emotional satisfaction from that work. Because if you didn't get anything else, that's all you'll end up with. If I had told some of the activists who tried to "recruit" me, what would eventually happen as we see here, I'd probably just have been attacked.

I've become very cynical. Today's Google-Verizon deal is an example of why.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in activism | on August 09, 2010 04:20 PM | (Infothought permalink) | Comments (5)