Looks like the battle over net neutrality is going from being mere saber-rattling to a serious no-holds barred legal mess. Last week the US Congress approved a bill that gives phone companies permission to offer television. Most wanted that bill to mandate that network neutrality would remain in place, but that didn’t happen. This gives phone companies and other broadband providers the option to charge for access from content providers. The bill has now been kicked up to the US Senate, and while there is little likelihood that the bill is going to get passed this year, it still has many in Silicon Valley worried, most of all Google.
Vint Cerf, one of the key voices in the overall development of the Internet, and a Google VP (and Chief Internet Evangelist) is saying that if things do come to a pass, the company might have to resort to legal means. “If we are not successful in our arguments … then we will simply have to wait until something bad happens and then we will make known our case to the Department of Justice’s anti-trust division,” he said at a news conference in Bulgaria.
What it really means is that Google et.al can drag this thing for a long time, but they also have to remember that the phone companies are masters of legal posturing and regulation. The best way to fight them is to outspend them in terms of lobbying dollars. Yup, a big fund – say $500 million – put together by Google, eBay and others could be enough to swing even the staunchest supporters of phone companies to the other side. Sounds crude, but as they say Money Talks!