For the first time since 2010, Google came out staunchly for a free and open internet in a message that encouraged people to "take action" on Wednesday.
Google has remained conspicuously silent on the issue since a court ruling earlier this year, while other tech companies like Netflix have opted to lobby publicly in and out of Washington. The company last took a strong stance on net neutrality in a blog post Eric Schmidt wrote in 2010. Despite the company's reluctance to explicitly state its stance independently since then, the company wrote that its "values remain the same." From the statement:
It's a level playing field, where new entrants and established players can reach users on an equal footing. If Internet access providers can block some services and cut special deals that prioritize some companies' content over others, that would threaten the innovation that makes the Internet awesome.
The timing is no coincidence, as the FCC comments period slowly comes to a close, the company is seemingly attempting to reiterate its stance on the matter.
However, as BuzzFeed News reported earlier this year, Google — at the time one of the biggest allies — worried Net Neutrality advocates with its silence after the federal court ruling in January that eliminated the requirement that broadband providers treat all internet traffic equally.
But in today's message, Google explicitly states that companies should not have the option of buying into faster lanes of broadband service:
That means no Internet access provider should block or degrade Internet traffic, nor should they sell 'fast lanes' that prioritize particular Internet services over others. These rules should apply regardless of whether you're accessing the Internet using a cable connection, a wireless service, or any other technology.
In the message, the company rightly notes that it came out in support of net neutrality earlier this year in a letter to the FCC along with a slew of other web giants. But this is certainly the first time in four years that Google has stated their support as explicitly as it did today, even going as far as attempting to mobilize more people for the cause. It's a move that should raise some questions considering previous opportunities to make an impact with its position that Google passed up.
Johana Bhuiyan is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bhuiyan reports on the sharing economy with a focus on ridesharing companies.
Contact Johana Bhuiyan at email@example.com.
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