I have many friends who are attorneys. And despite the old joke that says it’s just 99% of the lawyers making the rest look bad, most of the time, most attorneys are good, decent human beings. That said, Verizon and Google’s recently released Legislative Framework Proposal is something only a lawyer could love. One of the ones in the 99%.
Who hates it? Well, Huffington Post announced the document with the headline Google Goes Evil (HuffPo clearly assumes Verizon already is Evil). Twitter was all, um, a-Twitter about the document, largely in the negative. And Jeff Jarvis compares this agreement with Britain, France and Italy ceding the Sudatenland to Nazi Germnay prior to World War II. No word on whether Jeff thinks Google or Verizon plays the part of the Nazis in this picture, but you get the idea.
I won’t parse the document line-by-line; plenty of others are doing a fine job of that (though I do have to say, the mobile provision is laughably bad, or would be if it weren’t so disturbing). However, the document is the largest collection of weasel words, caveats and head fakes I’ve seen in a long time. Effectively the document says, “We can do whatever we damned well please. But we’ll try to make it sound like we’re acting in your best interest.” I’ve embedded the entire document below for reference. If you think I’m wrong, well, that’s what the comments section is for.
Businesses of all sizes depend upon an Internet that allows all consumers equal access to all content. And sometimes the open, transparent nature of the Internet means you’ll lose that customer to a competitor who is just a click away. And, yes, network providers, the costs of increasing bandwidth requirements keep increasing. But, no one benefits when competitors can completely shut out others. We used to have that years ago. It was called AOL. It was called CompuServe. It was called Prodigy. And we all know how well those turned out for everyone. The Internet today is a level playing field because that’s what worked best for everyone. Works best for everyone. Anything that tilts that level playing field is a Very Bad Thing.
Google and Verizon’s document, despite its brevity, is far too long. If they were serious about maintaining an open, vibrant Internet, the first clause is all they’d need:
“Consumer Protections: A broadband Internet access service provider would be prohibited from preventing users of its broadband Internet access service from–
- sending and receiving lawful content of their choice;
- running lawful applications and using lawful services of their choice; and
- connecting their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network or service, facilitate theft of service, or harm other users of the service.”
What more needs to be said?
Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.