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Google on defensive as Facebook joins net neutrality fight

AT&T: it's a 'reasonable plan', honestly

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Facebook has joined the assault on the Google/Verizon network-neutrality proposal just as Google published a spirited defense of what it says "has become a very contentious issue."

"Facebook continues to support principles of net neutrality for both landline and wireless networks," Facebook's head of public policy communications Andrew Noyes declared, according to Inside Facebook.

Noyes was referring to the exemption for wireless internet carriage in the guidelines outlined in the Google/Verizon proposal earlier this week.

"Preserving an open internet that is accessible to innovators — regardless of their size or wealth — will promote a vibrant and competitive marketplace where consumers have ultimate control over the content and services delivered through their Internet connections," Noyes continued.

Noyes' pronouncement echoes that of pro net-neut FCC commissioner Michael Copps, who issued a statement Tuesday that said, in part: "It is time to move a decision forward — a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations" — although Noyes understandably left out the part about "giant corporations."

Google and Verizon put forward their "open internet framework" on Monday, saying it hoped the proposal would prompt "other stakeholders [to] join with us in providing constructive ideas for an open Internet policy."

The two companies are seeing that wish fulfilled, as commentary has roiled the intertubes in the days since — and today the website that 500 million users call their second home weighed in.

Perhaps stung by the criticism, Google responded with a blog post it said would "separate fact from fiction."

Mountain View's 1,100-word plea is delivered as a half-dozen myth/fact pairings, arguing against such Google-defined myths as the company being a "sell-out", their proposal being "a step backwards for the open Internet", their motivation being a result of their Android-based relationship with Verizon, and more.

It's all a misunderstanding, says Google's telecom and media counsel Richard Whitt. "No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet," he said — an interesting sentiment coming from a company that has just proposed to exempt wireless broadband from regulation and to allow carriers to create multi-tiered fee-based access to "additional, differentiated online services".

Other "stakeholders" are weighing in against Google and Verizon, as well. According to The Telegraph, Skype's senior director of government and regulatory affairs says: "We believe openness principles should apply to wireless as well as fixed-line internet access."

The Financial Times reports that Amazon says: "We are concerned that this proposal appears to condone services that could harm consumer internet access" and that eBay is of the opinion that: "Two-tier networks with corporate toll lanes would stifle ground-up innovation and benefit dominant businesses at the expense of smaller competitors and entrepreneurs."

But not everyone is spanking Google for its noble-minded effort to stimulate debate. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that AT&T wireless headman Ralph de la Vega called the proposal a "reasonable framework." ®

Bootnote

You know that an issue has touched a nerve when an angry mob gathers its torches and pitchforks, and marches upon the lord's castle. A protest rally has been scheduled to take place outside the Googleplex on Friday at high noon, organized by Free Press, MoveOn.org, and others. Need directions to the Mountain View campus? Google 'em.

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