Google made it clear in a message to supporters that it is for a “free and open Internet” without fast or slow lanes that would come with the end of net neutrality. The company’s clarification comes after activists wondered whether Google, which has been a fierce proponent of the open Internet in the past, has changed its position.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) posted a message on its Take Action platform Wednesday explaining that its position on the Federal Communications Commission’s investigation into whether to give major Internet service providers the ability to charge content providers more to broadcast their service. Google, for instance, would pay a higher rate to Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) because streaming videos on YouTube, which Google owns, puts more of a strain on Comcast’s broadband. Paying that higher rate, ISPs have asserted, would enter Google into a service “fast lane.”
“The Internet was designed to empower people,” the Take Action note stated. “To get online, you need to use an Internet access provider. But once you’re online, you decide what to do and where to go. Anyone, anywhere can share their opinions freely -- and any entrepreneur, big or small, can build, launch and innovate without having to get permission first.”
The Take Action post coincided with Wednesday’s Internet Slowdown protest. Activist sites like Reddit, Boing Boing, Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and others posted a continuous loading wheel on their front page with a message saying that if net neutrality were repealed, the site would still be loading. Many of the sites didn't actually slow down their service.
It also came after dozens of left-leaning groups signed an open letter to Google asking executives to cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, an ISP friendly political organization. While little is known about exactly what Google is reaping from the partnership it, combined with Google’s near-silence on net neutrality, contributed to a sense of concern among already nervous activists.
“We believe that consumers should continue to enjoy open on-ramps to the Internet,” Google explained. “That means no Internet access provider should block or degrade Internet traffic, nor should they sell ‘fast lanes’ that prioritize particular Internet service over others. These rules should apply regardless of whether you’re accessing the Internet using a cable connection, a wireless service, or any other technology.”