What the world has to say about net neutrality

August 12, 2010: 1:30 PM ET

Google and Verizon may have struck a deal on how information flows (or doesn't) on the Net. But the repercussions were felt throughout the tech world.

When Google (GOOG) and Verizon (VZ) held a conference earlier this week to discuss their neutrality proposal, it seemed that every company, government agency and journalist who had a toe in the digital world went to work figuring out what was in it for them: why the proposal will move discussion forward, how it could radically restructure the Internet, and why wireless should -- or should not -- be included in what ever terms are ultimately hammered out.

From the FCC to Facebook, here's a rundown of where the views are falling out:

Good idea but a PR disaster.
"At first, I thought this would be good news for the negotiated settlement process. But as soon as I saw the New York Times article online, I thought, holy s*&t. This is going to torpedo the entire process. ... It's going to create such a political firestorm the whole thing is going to blow up now – and it did, within hours. Unfortunately for Google and Verizon, their most recent press conference had the flavor of damage control, rather than a triumphant settlement. But the damage was already done, and I suspect it's too late to salvage the negotiated process." – Craig Moffett, research analyst, Bernstein Research

It's a good thing -- or at least realistic.
"It's good for the industry and indicates that two companies from different industries can come together on a difficult issue." -Ralph De la Vega, President and CEO, AT&T Mobility (T)

"Google and Verizon made a logical proposal to put off net neutrality on the wireless front. Some would call that a sell-out move. I'd call it a reflection of network realities." – Larry Digman, editor of ZDNet

...or not.
"Facebook continues to support principles of net neutrality for both landline and wireless networks. Preserving an open Internet that is accessible to innovators -- regardless of their size or wealth -- will promote a vibrant and competitive marketplace where consumers have ultimate control over the content and services delivered through their Internet connections." - Facebook

"Openness on the Internet is the right policy for Internet businesses and Internet users, and that two-tier networks with corporate toll lanes would stifle ground-up innovation and benefit dominant businesses at the expense of smaller competitors and entrepreneurs." - eBay (EBAY)

"The Google-Verizon deal can be summed up as this: 'FCC, you have no authority over us and you're not going to do anything about it. Congress, we own you, and we'll get whatever legislation we want. And American people, you can't stop us.' " - Josh Silver, President, Free Press

"We've long supported net neutrality, and although we agree that network operators should be allowed to offer additional services, we are concerned that this proposal appears to condone services that could harm consumer Internet access." - Paul Misener, VP of global public policy, Amazon (AMZN)

What it could mean for the Internet.
"It would open the door to outright blocking of applications, just as Comcast did with BitTorrent, or the blocking of content, just as Verizon did with text messages from NARAL Pro-choice America. It would divide the information superhighway, creating new private fast lanes for the big players while leaving the little guy stranded on a winding dirt road." - MoveOn.org Civic Action, Credo Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and ColorofChange.org

"[Google's] capitulation allows the carriers it works with to do the same thing AT&T and Apple have done to protect their businesses: ban cool apps for no real reason (Google Voice on the iPhone for one), cripple apps to protect business models (Skype on the iPhone) and outright ban data-heavy apps from third parties (Slingbox for the iPhone), all the while promoting their own app (MLB's iPhone app). - Ryan Singel, Wired

"The agreement makes two huge carve-outs to neutrality and regulation of the internet: mobile and anything new. So ol, grandpa internet may chug along giving us YouTube videos of flaming cats, but you want to get that while you're out of your house? Well, that's the 'non-net.' I can hear the customer "service" rep explaining this to us: 'Oh, no, sir. That's not offered on the internet. That's on the schminternet.' You want something new? Anything created after 2010? 'Schminternet, sir.'" - Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine

It's time to make a decision.
"Some will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward. That's one of its many problems. It is time to move a decision forward -- a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations." - FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps


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About This Author
JP Mangalindan
JP Mangalindan
Writer, Fortune

JP Mangalindan is a San Francisco-based writer at Fortune, covering Silicon Valley. Since joining in 2010, he has written on a wide array of topics, from the turnaround of eBay to the evolution of net neutrality. A graduate of Fordham University, Mangalindan has also written for GQ, Popular Science, and Entertainment Weekly.

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