Comic Update: Define “Evil”August 10, 2010
I’m not always comfortable with labeling technology-related positions as “evil” or “good” considering the difficulties of applying morality to anything in the 21st century without being told that it’s all subjective. However, considering the importance of the Internet and equal access to its content in today’s society, I think I’ll ask you all to excuse me when I say that net neutrality is a good thing.
Unless you’re a greedy content provider corporation interested in your bottom line. Then it might be a pain in your ass.
But since I’m not a greedy content provider, I’m going to go ahead and say that the recent joint proposal for an “open Internet” that Google and Verizon have made public is them knowingly abusing terminology, trying to falsely claim support for a neutrality their actions oppose, and are therefore being “evil”.
Today’s comic provides a desert-themed metaphor to my opinion on the topic, featuring Faruk Ateş and Manu Sporny, who stumble through the dunes with the Squirrel before encountering a familiar-seeming water merchant.
Let’s break down the timeline
- The New York Times publishes an article claiming Google and Verizon are nearing a web tier deal, which Manu Sporny tweets about here, tying it into a threat to net neutrality.
- Web citizens share their thoughts. Faruk’s pretty clear on his opinion here, which I think sums up how a lot of us feel.
- Google and Verizon jointly announce a proposal for the “open Internet”… sort of. An open Internet for those with wired connections.
- Web citizens share their thoughts. This blog post by Jeff Sayre indicates some serious problems with it, specifically in their fifth and sixth elements of the proposal. In particular, they feel that “additional, differentiated online services” should be exempt, and explicitly are stating that net neutrality shouldn’t apply to the wireless Internet, but only the wired one. Other people, like Faruk, are more brief but share their thoughts clearly like he does here.
I’m aware there’s plenty of idiots on the Internet. But it’s absurd, and childish, to claim you’re not threatening net neutrality when you’re in fact doing that exact thing and actually expect us to buy into the lie. They can try to pretend that how you access your water matters, but the fact is that water is water, regardless of whether you’re drinking with a straw or a spoon.
The op-ed piece that Google and Verizon put in the Washington Post today is just more attempts at obfuscation, claiming without any effort at being convincing that somehow the wireless access to the Internet makes it somehow a different Internet that should be subject to unique rules (or, better yet for them, no rules.)
I’m willing to say that manipulating the public through intentional deception (aka lying), especially on an issue as important as net neutrality, is evil. And it’s clear that Google and Verizon are (badly) attempting to do this for a mutual financial gain.
Welcome to being evil, Google.
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