Report : Google moving away from net neutrality?

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According to a report made by the Wall Street Journal, Google is being reported to have approached the major internet service providers in America with a proposal that would create a “fast lane” for Google’s own content, which includes YouTube, GMail and Google Maps. But the problem is that Google has been one of the advocates for net neutrality.

Internally called “OpenEdge”, this would see Google’s own servers being placed within network operators, and this would effectively accelerate its service for users, giving it an advantage that is “available to very few”. One, according to the WSJ, is afraid to get on board because it feels that the deal might violate the guidelines on net neutrality made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Net Neutrality is where the internet service providers treat all traffic the same, with no website jumping ahead in speed. While Google, along with Microsoft and Yahoo, have been for neutrality; ISPs have argued that content providers should share the costs of running the network, which is growing by more than 50% according to them.

However, some are saying this has been invented by the Wall Street Journal, with Lawrence Lessig, one of the “Internet scholars” being quoted, saying that entire story is not true.

The article is an indirect effort to gin up a drama about a drama about an alleged shift in Obama’s policies about network neutrality. What’s the evidence for the shift? That Google allegedly is negotiating for faster service on some network pipes. And that “prominent Internet scholars, some of whom have advised President-elect Barack Obama on technology issues, have softened their views on the subject.”

It is true, as the Journal reports, that I have stated that network providers should be free to charge different rates for different service — “so long,” the Journal quotes, “as the faster service at a higher price is available to anyone willing to pay it.”

He also says that the story makes the suggestion that his position on net neutrality different, with the WSJ saying that Lessing “recently shifted gears by saying at a conference that content providers should be able to pay for faster service” and that he “has softened his opposition to variable service tiers”.