News about a potentially game-changing deal between Mountain View's Google and Verizon has caught the attention of local Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, who has "real concerns" that the deal risks undermining efforts by the FCC to maintain net neutrality and could "widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots" online.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that a deal is in the offing between Google and Verizon for Android-equipped phones that would "allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content's creators are willing to pay for the privilege."
Advocates of net neutrality say such a deal would set a precedent and lead to more companies like Google paying for trouble-free access to online content, while blocking or slowing down access to other content and online applications. The deal has been widely cast among Internet denizens as a violation of Google's "don't be evil" policy.
As far as Eshoo is concerned, "I remain a champion to ensure that the next Google is able to flourish on the Internet, and not have its content sit in the slow lane."
"FCC Chairman Genachowski is making progress on net neutrality, but he must act quickly to protect an open and free Internet," Eshoo writes. "And I believe these reported side deals by companies risk undermining his efforts.
Eshoo, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also said such a deal could lead to costlier Internet access for consumers.
"Premium pricing for access to the Internet, whether accessing it via phone or Internet, is bad for consumers, especially those who can't afford to pay for high speed access," she writes. "This would widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots."
Google has denied that the deal would end net neutrality. CEO Eric Schmidt has told the press that Google does not believe that certain content providers should have priority over others, but Google does believe that certain types of data should have better connectivity, such as digital voice.