invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege,” Edward Wyatt reports for The New York Times.

Advertisement: Protect your iPad with the invisibleSHIELD.

“The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers,” Wyatt reports. “The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.”

Wyatt reports, “Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.”

“Any agreement between Verizon and Google could also upend the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to assert its authority over broadband service, which was severely restricted by a federal appeals court decision in April,” Wyatt reports. “People close to the negotiations who were not authorized to speak publicly about them said an agreement could be reached as soon as next week. If completed, Google, whose Android operating system powers many Verizon wireless phones, would agree not to challenge Verizon’s ability to manage its broadband Internet network as it pleased.”

“The court decision said the F.C.C. lacked the authority to require that an Internet service provider refrain from blocking or slowing down some content or applications, or giving favor to others,” Wyatt reports. “The F.C.C. has since sought another way in which to enforce the concept of net neutrality. But its proposals have been greeted with much objection in Congress and among Internet service providers, cable companies and some Internet content producers.”

“A spokesman for Verizon said that the company was still engaged in the larger talks to reach a consensus at the F.C.C. and declined to comment on other negotiations. A spokeswoman for Google also declined to comment,” Wyatt reports. “While a deal between Google and Verizon would affect only those two companies, it could sway the opinions of lawmakers, many of whom have questioned the wisdom of the F.C.C.’s plans to oversee broadband service.”

Read more in the full article here.

Bianca Bosker reports for The Huffington Post, “A Google/Verizon deal of the kind described by the New York Times would enact precisely the pay tiers that Schmidt fiercely fought in 2006. Jeff Jarvis calls Google’s agreement a ‘devil’s pact with Verizon for tiered internet service.’ Huffington Post blogger and Free Press president Josh Silver warns, ‘The deal marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as you know it.'”

“This may in fact be just the latest crack in Google’s support for net neutrality,” Bosker reports. “The Wall Street Journal reported in 2008 that Google was approaching broadband providers in the hopes of creating a ‘fast lane for its own content.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: From the “My How Times Change” file, the following open letter from Google CEO Eric Schmidt was posted online in the summer of 2006. Here it is, verbatim:

A Note to Google Users on Net Neutrality:

The Internet as we know it is facing a serious threat. There’s a debate heating up in Washington, DC on something called “net neutrality” – and it’s a debate that’s so important Google is asking you to get involved. We’re asking you to take action to protect Internet freedom.

In the next few days, the House of Representatives is going to vote on a bill that would fundamentally alter the Internet. That bill, and one that may come up for a key vote in the Senate in the next few weeks, would give the big phone and cable companies the power to pick and choose what you will be able to see and do on the Internet.

Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can’t pay.

Creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are all at stake in this fight. Please call your representative (202-224-3121) and let your voice be heard.

Thanks for your time, your concern and your support.

Eric Schmidt

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]