Now it’s getting good. In the wake of this morning’s Wall Street Journal article (see entry below), a Google executive has denied the company has reversed its position on network neutrality. Yahoo News reports that Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington-based telecom and media counsel, wrote in a blog post early Monday that the Journal’s report is apparently based on a misunderstanding. To set the record straight, the Journal article never reported the Google has openly changed its position network neutrality. It just reported that the company was seeking agreements that would violate the principle it has long advocated. To be sure, you can infer a lot from this and the Journal does. Whitt claims Google is using edge servers to accelerate content, a common technique used by large content providers (and another example as to why the Internet is no longer neutral anyway). In doing so Whitt diverts attention from the Journal’s principal revelation, that Google is seeking content acceleration agreements with service providers, a report, in fact, he confirms by stating Google wants to pay service providers to co-locate edge servers in service provider facilities. This would put the service provider in a position where it is accepting compensation in return for preferred treatment for network services. The way I read the Snowe-Dorgan net neutrality bill, this would constitute a violation. No amount of semantics gets around it. Even one of the cable companies understood it as such. “If we did this, Washington would be on fire,” an undisclosed executive told the Journal. “Google remains strongly committed to the principle of Net neutrality, and we will continue to work with policymakers in the years ahead to keep the Internet free and open,” Whitt wrote on his blog. No doubt the company will continue to voice support Ã¢â?¬â?? right up to the day they don’t.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.