VENICE BEACH-In response a shareholder suit claiming that Google management was failing to maximize profits by such policies as making Android open source and supporting some form of net neutrality, in a widely anticipated decision, the court is expected to rule that Google's "Don't Be Evil" policy is contrary to best corporate practices and must be abandoned. The court is expected to cite the famous 1919 Dodge Bros. vs Ford case, in which the courts ruled that Ford could not pay more to his workers and charge less for his cars if it wasn't making the Dodge brothers richer faster...
Now that I have got your attention with an alarmist headline, much like the NYT did on 8/4 with "Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers" [There is no 'deal' and no 'web pay tiers.'], please allow me to give you a little more background on this subject.
Vint Cref on Net Neutrality
Vinton Cerf is generally regarded as the father of the Internet. This is what he said about Network Neutrality in April 2005.
The occasion was David Isenberg's Freedom To Connect (F2C) Conference in Washington, DC and he was the keynote speaker. At the time he was speaking for Google as VP and Chief Internet Evangelist:
Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do on-line would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success. For the foreseeable future, most Americans will face little choice among broadband carriers. Enshrining a rule that permits carriers to discriminate in favor of certain kinds or sources of services would place those carriers in control of on-line activity. Allowing broadband carriers to reserve huge amounts of bandwidth for their own services will not give consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need. Promoting an open and accessible Internet is critical for consumers.
Google believes that consumers should be able to use the Internet connections that they pay for in the way that they want. This principle—that users pick winners and losers in the Internet marketplace, not carriers—is an architectural and policy choice critical to innovation on-line. Google itself is a product of the Internet. We care passionately about the future of the Net, not just for ourselves, but because of all the other potential Googles out there. Indeed, we are not alone. Our concerns are shared by Internet companies, small businesses, end users and consumer groups across the country. The vibrant ecosystem of innovation that lies at the heart of the Internet creates wealth and opportunity for millions of Americans. That ecosystem—based upon a neutral open network—should be nourished and promoted.
If you still think that Al Gore is the "father of the Internet", then I would ask you to do a Bing search on that phrase and see what you come up with. Normally I would suggest you do a Google search but in this case some might question the results.
The point is that Google has been fighting for net neutrality and Internet freedom for a long time, and they have been doing so with some very creditable partners. Most of that history is unknown to people here but they do know that Google has grown into a huge corporation, so when they hear that Google has sold out net neutrality to Verizon for the money, they don't even wait to read the actual proposal. They don't even wait till it is released. By the Friday before it was released, Daily Kos, Democracy Now and Huffington Post had thrown Google under the bus quicker than the White house did Shirley Sherrod. Okay, maybe not that quick, but you get my point.
And why? Because they are in such a rush to put the FCC in control of the Internet? Since the FCC has done such a bang up job of stopping the NSA from reading our email and otherwise violating our freedoms on the Internet, I'm sure there will be no problem.
The Internet is international, it should be run by international bodies under international law, as it is now. The only thing our FCC and our Congress should be doing is making sure our country's Internet companies do not violate well established Internet practices, and we should demand that every country do the same and there will be the freedom of the Internet. There is no need for an FCC takeover.
The MoveOn.org/FreePress.net petition is not the first time Google has been told "Don't Be Evil" and it must be admitted that by adopting that as a corporate slogan, they invite having it thrown back in their face. I want to recommend to the reader this article from Linux Journal of Oct 2009 Don't Be Evil Means Don't Be Evil! which recounts the story of how July a year ago Google was caught holding out on some Android developers, failing to practice what could be called 'developer neutrality', how those developers organized, petitioned "Don't be Evil" and even created a independent project to compete with Android. And how Google responded. The article ends by warning Google:
If you're going to claim a commitment to openness, try to learn how it works, and think a little before sending a street gang to beat down people who, if anything, are a bit too enthusiastic about being open.
Above all, get a clue. That's not how this team plays.
While many articles in Linux Journal are rather technical, this one is not, and I think the reader will find it an interesting story about how things work in the open source community.
Here is a recap of my other DKos dairies on this subject:
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?
End of the Internet As We Know It!
Free Press would make this Illegal!
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal
and on another subject...