The hypocrisy of Google

I’ve said before that Google was treading dangerously near to hypocrisy in the contrast between its promoted public policy and its own internal policy, but now the large, wealthy firm has gone well over the line.

Google is a widely outspoken proponent of the Obama administration’s Net Neutrality plan. At the core of this plan are two “principles” outlined by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. First is the principle of neutrality that “would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management,” as Genachowski has said. The second is the principle of transparency that “would ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement.”

Conveniently, the same two principles Google wants private ISPs to meet, Google itself flagrantly ignores, even though Google’s market power gives their actions more effect than the actions of any ISP. Take the case of Studio Briefing to see Google ignoring both principles of the Net Neutrality push.

Firstly we have the principle of neutrality itself. If Google has its way, carriers like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner, and the rest will not have a say at all in what its users find through their Internet connections. They will not be allowed to set network policies that favor some websites or services over others, no matter how detrimental to the company’s ability to service all its customers.

However, we can see in the case of Studio Briefing that Google is anything but neutral. Studio Briefing has been shut out of all of Google’s services, and has been forcibly removed even from the search, so searching for Studio Briefing would never turn up the company’s webpage. Rather than letting algorithms pick and choose what sites come up, as Google usually claims, somebody human took a step by removing a particular company’s site from the system and sending an email notifying the company of the situation. Imagine Google’s hysterical shrieking had AT&T wiped a Google site off of the map for all users of its services.

Secondly we have the principle of transparency. Under the Obama plan, the policies of every ISP’s data handling must be made visible to outsiders. Proponents claim this is necessary for the neutrality to be enforced. However Google won’t even tell Studio Briefing, let alone the public, the policies and process that led to them blockading the company from its servers.

Fortunately for Google they’ve exempted big, rich companies like themselves from the Net Neutrality plan, only targetting smaller, more vulnerable companies like Verizon and AT&T (who of course has no connection to the monopolist of old, actually being the former Cingular with a new name). Fortunate and completely hypocritical.

But you can get away with that when you have high executives in good with the President, I guess.