Google and Verizon publish a 9-point framework proposal for how open and equal distribution of Internet content could work " specifically keeping some doors to discrimination and prioritization of Internet traffic open and providing provisions for ISPs to build differentiating services on top of regular broadband Internet access.
While giving the FCC the right to police the clauses it severely limits the FCCs in what it could do.
Our verdict: good enough, for now, but suspect.

Google and Verizon, one of the US largest Internet service providers, have published a shared proposal for a legal framework to deal with Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality is defined by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, as such:

If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.

The idea being that Internet traffic of all kinds and from all kinds of sources flows as it does without ISPs trying to slow down or block certain Internet traffic in order to favor speedier delivery of other Internet content theyve been paid to deliver faster (heres how net neutrality effects your business).

What the Google-Verizon Proposal is For

Its to help shape the discussion in especially the USA about how the resources that help make up the World Wide Web can be used.

Because a 2010 US court decision effectively removed the ability of the FCC to police how ISPs deal with Internet traffic, a power vacuum has been created.

This vacuum of authority creates the possibility for ISPs to change the flow of Internet traffic at their liking as it would fit in their business model.

While the FCC and some ISPs have been engaged in several rounds of mostly useless talks, Google & Verizon now seem to have taken a huge jump forward by saying look, heres how we can do it

What the Google-Verizon Proposal Entails


(or download as interactive PDF)

Consumer Protection

Using legal hardware, software and services you should be allowed to send and receive legal content for legal purposes.

A kind of duh statement but remember, this is a legal framework so it needs to be specified. Still, what are the provisions for limiting this consumer protection by offering limited service contracts?

Non-Discrimination with a big but

The heart of the Net Neutrality debate: can you discriminate between certain types of Internet traffic or between certain sources of Internet traffic?

While boldly titled non-discrimination the actual proposal reads:

[] a provider would be prohibited from engaging in undue discrimination against any lawful Internet content,
application, or service in a manner that causes meaningful harm to competition or to users.
Prioritization of Internet traffic would be presumed inconsistent with the non-discrimination
standard, but the presumption could be rebutted.

Translated out of double-speak into plain English: there are scenarios in which discrimination against certain types of Internet traffic is due (as defined by whom??) as long as that discrimination doesnt cause meaningful harm (as analyzed and determined by whom??)

Transparency

Using plain language, ISPs should be required to explain what their service offerings really mean and have to disclose how they manage their broadband network.

The language builds out from the previous non-discrimination clause making a case for the option for ISPs to discriminate or prioritize certain types of Internet traffic as long as they plainly state what theyre doing (e.g., streaming video is delayed by 500KBps in order to reserve network capability for the majority of our customers).

Network Management

ISPs should be allowed to manage their network. To do things that ensure the service they provide to customers is up to speed. To secure their network. These things should look like or be comparable with the types of best practices a widely recognized Internet community governance type of body would suggest. This would also specifically include;

[] to prioritize general classes or types of Internet traffic, based on latency []

Another open door for at least some type(s) of Internet traffic discrimination.

Additional Online Services

ISPs would be allowed to offer other or additional services that may be like broadband Internet access but not the same in scope or purpose.

The clause calls for the FCC to right away ring the alarm bell when it sees that services like this threaten the meaningful availability of Internet access (who defines meaningful?) or when such services seem to be devised or promoted to remove the consumer protection we mentioned earlier.

In other words, ISPs are allowed to discriminate against some types of traffic, may have cases where priorization is  permitted " and as long as they explain this to the customer they can do this and setup services that might specifically include those very things against a premium as long as it is construed in such a way that it doesnt seem to be that way?

Wireless Broadband

As long as an ISP tells you in plain English what theyre doing with their wireless network and what the packages they sell you entail and not, they can do anything they want with the wireless Internet.

Case-by-case Enforcement

The FCC can police some of the clauses of this proposal but cannot make any rules.

On top of that, preference is given to settling things outside of governmental organizations.

The FCC would give appropriate deference to the decisions made by widely-recognized Internet community governance initiatives (???).

Regulatory Authority

A toothless clause. The FCC has the authority to oversee the broadband Internet access " but its enforcement of rules would be limited by the above case-by-case clause.

Additionally, this clause states Regulatory authorities would not be permitted to regulate broadband Internet access service.

Broadband Access for Americans

Reads like a money-grab, basically:

Broadband Internet access would be eligible for Federal universal service fund support to spur deployment in unserved areas and to support programs to encourage broadband adoption by low-income populations.In addition, the FCC would be required to complete intercarrier compensation reform within 12 months.

Does The Google-Verizon Deal Protect Net Neutrality

As the goal stated by Google and Verizon? Yes.

But the opening of doors to allow some types of discrimination (as long as it isnt paid discrimination) coupled with the explicitly stated permission for ISPs to build services that would expand on this discrimination.

As the Wall Street Journal aptly observes:

But the proposal, which takes the form of a suggested legislative framework for consideration by lawmakers, also left room for broadband providers to offer new "differentiated online services," in addition to the Internet access and video services available today. Over these new services the providers could give priority to certain online traffic.

What This Means To You

While the legal access squeeze is playing out, the physical limitations access squeeze has always been a given. No web site operates in a void: we all share limited Internet resources.

This is even more evident with the mobile Internet, especially where it comes to smartphones.

In the end its not about what the ISPs decide for the future: its about making and keeping your website optimally accessible on all devices at any time, any speed.

See also:
- Google, Verizon Announce a Cake-Having, Eating

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