It's a classic geek insult: A Google executive has called the Wall Street Journal "confused" about its stance on whether companies should be able to buy themselves a fast lane on the Internet.
The Journal reported today that Google is rethinking the issue, known in wonkish circles as "network neutrality," and approaching telecom companies about paying them for access to their networks. Richard Whitt, a Google lawyer who works on telecom issues, called the article "confused," and conveniently forgot uttering a statement he was quoted as saying. The Journal is standing by its story.
The only confusion here is whether Google thinks reporters need its permission to uncover important stories.
The arrangement is clever enough; it involves placing Google servers deep with the telecom companies' networks, reducing the cost to the telcos for carrying Google content over their wires. In theory, anyone can do it — which is why Google spokesman Richard Whitt is claiming it doesn't violate their stance on network neutrality, a cause célèbre of Silicon Valley which has failed to resonate farther than 50 miles from the campus of Stanford University.
Some say Google's proposal, dubbed OpenEdge, is clearly malicious, a contravention of its corporate slogan, "Don't be evil." But I'd argue that Google's use of network neutrality has always been evil. Google has not advanced network neutrality because it believes in some namby-pamby principle like the openness of the Internet; it is a cudgel with which it has beat the telecom companies over the head, threatening government regulation if they did not cut Google a deal on favorable terms.
Googlers are intelligent sorts, well-trained in the arts of Big-Brother doublethink. (I almost expect them to change the motto to "Don't be ungood.") Whitt argues that Google's caching efforts aren't evil, because anyone can pursue the same arrangements. Anyone who, like Google, has $14 billion in the bank, that is. Google isn't evil. It's just fabulously rich. And Googlers believe in a level playing field — for anyone who has as much cash to throw around as they do.
(Logo by Gevil.org)