WSJ accuses Google of abandoning Net neutrality

Aayush Arya
16 December, 2008
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High-profile US newspaper The Wall Street Journal Monday posted an article claiming that Google, as well as other Net neutrality advocates, were abandoning or softening their views on Net neutrality. The Wall Street Journal specifically attacks Google’s OpenEdge project as a means by which Google can have its own content given bandwidth priority over other Web sites. Before we go into a terrified panic that Google is abandoning Net neutrality for its own nefarious purposes, how about we look at what OpenEdge actually does.

OpenEdge is a means for ISPs to cache frequently accessed Web sites so that those Web sites do not need to use more bandwidth to be loaded over and over again. On Google’s public policy blog the process is described: “Google has offered to “colocate” caching servers within broadband providers’ own facilities; this reduces the provider’s bandwidth costs since the same video wouldn’t have to be transmitted multiple times. We’ve always said that broadband providers can engage in activities like colocation and caching, so long as they do so on a non-discriminatory basis.”

The caching process does not give any preferential treatment to Google or any other Web site on its own. The possible infringement of Net neutrality is that an ISP could use OpenEdge to only cache sites that it prefers, which is why Net neutrality sanctions are in place to prevent that from happening.

The Wall Street Journal article also mentions Microsoft and Yahoo as attempting to make deals with ISPs for preferential treatment, but it is likely that those deals are also caching related and do not actually infringe on Net neutrality.

It upsets me that the Wall Street Journal points the finger at companies that actually support Net neutrality in an attempt to stir up controversy and attract attention. It is a simple matter of a publication favoring fear mongering over actual news. What saddens me the most though is that in order to debunk its claims I needed to reference the trumped up article, giving the Wall Street Journal more traffic and justification to print more articles that are controversial for the sake of controversy instead of with an intention to inform its readers.

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