If Verizon and Google Win, We Lose

The Lie about Quality of Service
Then, of course, there's the question of quality of service, or more aptly, the lack of quality that we've all experienced. States are empowered to investigate those issues under current law, but they almost never do. (Look how Congress recently made noise about Apple's exclusivity deal with network-challenged AT&T, then quietly backed away. Or how it took bloggers, the news media, and European governments to pressure Apple to do something about the iPhone 4's antenna flaws, as U.S. and state regulators were silent.)

The lobbying clout of the wireless industry keeps regulators, many of whom would like to do a better job, under the thumb of politically appointed bosses who owe loyalty to the industry, not consumers.

The FCC would enforce the consumer protection and nondiscrimination requirements through case-by-case adjudication, but would have no rule-making authority with respect to those provisions.

Consider that statement carefully, particularly the phrase "case-by-case." That's like saying we won't make a law punishing theft, but we'll deal with it one theft at a time. "In practice, this poses a nearly insurmountable burden, since it is often impossible for consumers to know what practices are being employed," says Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior vice president of Media Access Project, an advocacy group for Net neutrality.

The Equal-Access-to-Data Lie
Then there's the issue at the core of the Net neutrality argument: That all information and services should be treated equally as they traverse the Internet and the private networks that feed into it.

What's wrong with that? "Another important shortcoming of the plan is that it would remove all authority for the Federal Trade Commission to exercise its traditional consumer protection role," says Schwartzman.

It's probably trite to chide Google for violating its "don't be evil" motto. But in this case, its plan to jump in bed with the carriers and rob consumers of the protection they need really is evil.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill.snyder@sbcglobal.net.

This article, "When it comes to wireless, if Google wins, you lose," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com.

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