Google Calls: Keep the Internet Free and Open [To Be Ruled by Google]

It’s a Google Internet, after all, but the search giant’s dominating position seems to be threatened by rising stars, like Facebook… and then some. A few competitors are trying to call for “fair search” and their voices are heard by the FTC and the European Commission. And now, the ITU threatens to make more changes to Google’s warm spot on the web. All this back and forth is perceived by some as a threat to the very core of the Internet, which, as it stands now, is dominated by Google. And the search engine calls out to you, the users, to Keep the Internet free and open.

Internet free and open.

A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet.

If you see things from Google’s perspective, they make sense. Since the world governments meet behind closed doors at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Google has virtually no control over what happens in that room. But the search engine giant has control over the Internet – a power that is threatened by some of the world governments now (42 countries already filter and censor content), as they are very likely to use the meeting in Dubai to increase censorship and regulate the Internet – as Google puts it.

Google’s campaign is designed with all Google’s self proclaimed values in focus. The whole idea is that a free and open world depends on a free and open Internet – an altruistic purpose, which fits Google’s Do No Evil philosophy, as Google calls for you to take action:

“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.”

The action means that you join those who already pledged their will for a free Internet on https://www.google.com/takeaction/.

Among Google’s main concerns, one stands out more relevant than others – Google fears that some governments would require billion-dollar services to pay a “toll” in specific countries:

“Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information — particularly in emerging markets.”

This is not a concern for the users, or for freedom, as it is disguised. It relates to something that concerns Google directly, in several countries across Europe. Earlier this year, the German Federal Ministry of Justice (Bundesjustizministerium) drafted the “Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverlage” – the law of intellectual property rights for the press, which would require Google to pay a license fee for reproducing news content from German publishers in the search results. And similar measures are discussed in other countries as well:

“The concern is with laws like this, is it clamps down on what you can do, because it breaks the freedom of the Internet,” said Ben Gomes, the Google vice president in charge of search, speaking at LeWeb 2012.

If you choose to ignore this particular aspect from Google’s call to action, everything else makes sense. And yet, also consider this: any change decided by governments at the ITU will impact not only the “free Internet” but Google’s position on the market. Something that Google wants to avoid at all cost. Whether the Internet was ever a place of “freedom” that’s a matter of debate. Right now, make an educated judgement on Google’s true motivations and intentions.

Comments

  1. jnffarrell1 says

    So.. on the outside chance that Google might somehow benefit if freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, free speech and free use of ideas, you oppose all of the above. Really?

    • says

      You know that all that freedom comes at a cost, don’t you? I do not oppose anything of the above, I am just making a point: for Google this is propaganda time. If you really want to oppose alleged changes and censures you can do it on your own, without the involvement of a monopoly.

  2. khdjhd says

    You don’t want them to “win the fight?” What the hell? Look, whether or not you like Google is irrelevant. The beauty of it is, WE made them that way, during the infancy of the web, because their services are useful. They got to the position they are in today because EVERYONE could access their content. I suppose you’d like it if billionaire tycoons (I’m aware Google are a wealthy company, but they are the good guys here!) and governments ran the internet and told you exactly what information to search for – easier on the brain isn’t it? Less thinking that way? If you want “fresh” perspectives, go use bing or something. I mean, of course Google don’t want this to come into effect because it would affect them adversely. But, hello? THEY ARE A BUSINESS. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want the web to stay free and open for selfless reasons too. The fact that people are even talking about monopolising the internet behind closed doors in this way disgusts me! Who put them in this position of power over it? All I read was “wahh, wahh, greedy German reporters want a slice of pie, and google are getting too big for their britches so they must be selfishly motivated. Therefore, we need dismantle the structure of the Internet.” There is nothing to discuss: Leave it alone, or risk losing the freedom of information the web provides us with. World. Wide. Remember that, not everyone could afford to publish and share information if these proposed acts came into effect, as you sit there on your fancy mac at starbucks. If we let them start making changes like this, where does it end? We need to be less divided and more united! Governments are not entitled to ownership of something just because it can make them money!

    • khdjhd says

      also I am aware that the “toll” only applies to billion dollar businesses, but that stuff will trickle down and it’s the average Joe who’ll end up paying for it!

      • says

        Who said I don’t want them to win the fight in the sense you imply? You just need to think about why they want to win the fight – this is the argument here. As far as everything else goes, it’s all a matter of debate. You seem to confuse “free” with “freedom.”

  3. Bart says

    I’d agree with you, except that the focus on Google is too narrow unfortunately. Both governments and corporations are almost wetting themselves with the expanded possibilities to influence and control the global internet environment. It’s no coincidence that all kinds of possibilities are being discussed behind closed doors, out of public view since the public would be up in arms if it was broadly known what the implications were for “their” free and open internet. In the same way telephone access is limited to larger providers, broadcasting rights strictly regulated the focus is now to limit who can do what on the internet. Although Google is taking on a somewhat duplicitous standpoint, I feel we should look beyond this and move for more transparency on the global playing field. As JA (more or less) said not so long ago, the internet has now developed into an instrument that can provide great freedom or total control, depending on who wins this fight.

    • says

      Agree with you Bart… I just don’t want Google to win the fight. They’ve been monetizing for the past (at least) 10 years. I need some “fresh” perspectives… ;)

      • Bart says

        I think we all need fresh perspectives really, looking more to a society which is based on transparency, cooperation and mutual benefit, and not one which relies on control and coercion to reap benefits for the select few.

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