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.
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.