On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Google and Verizon "are nearing an agreement that could … speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content's creators are willing to pay for the privilege." While both Google and Verizon quickly denied the NYT report, the newspaper says it's standing by its story. If the Times is right, this content-for-cash scheme would be the greatest scandal in Google's history. We could term it "Internet Payola," after the practice of record labels paying radio stations to play their songs.
The plan would probably work like this: In exchange for payment or some other mutually beneficial considerations, Verizon would give special priority to sites like Google.com and YouTube, making them run faster than competitors like Yahoo.com and Hulu. Such a payola scheme would violate the precept of net neutrality, the belief that all packets that travel over the Internet should be treated equally. It would be a betrayal of the public's trust from a firm that has long sold itself as a fair broker and has tirelessly tempered its growing power with its advocacy of "open networking." It would also reveal the need for immediate federal action on net neutrality and continued oversight over all corporate monopolies that control speech and commerce.
How could Google be moving away from its "open networking" values?
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