A Tale of Two Googles

Google, the company turned into a common verb, has come under fire recently because of the fear that many have of the potential misuse of the troves of data piling up at the ol’ Googleplex. Although these fears aren’t totally irrational, I recently pointed out in CEI’s tech newsletter C:\Spin (C-SPAN for nerds) that Google and other similar companies do a great job of handling our data. Moreover, they do a much better job than the alternative guardian of our data, the federal government. Think of the mayhem!

A C:\Spin reader was kind enough to point out that, while I was right to defend Google against the anti-trust regulators and the privacy hawks, Google isn’t exactly an innocent party. While I think that Google is a tremendous force for innovation and has created and will create more wealth than can be measured, they do also support some bad policy positions. Net neutrailty, for example, has been a cornerstone of Google’s government relations strategy, though that emphasis may be diminishing.

I believe in markets, not individual companies. That’s why I speak out against regulation, not in favor of certain groups or businesses. Google needs to be talked about now because it’s the top search engine out there and, therefore, the target of the regulatory machine. So while they deserve to be defended from the vultures in Washington, they should also have to take responsibility for their bad net neutrality position.

Afterall, when Google finishes rounding out its new network and municipal wi-fi ventures, they will likely find that net neutrality legislation makes them a little uncomfortable. Google is quicly becoming both a content and carrier company in many markets and would become subject to the same price controls that net neutrality demands, forcing low-use customers to pay the same high prices as its high-use customers. That might make a a plan touted as “open and free” seem more like controled and unfair.

I hope Google changes their tune in the future and realize that the only way to preserve freedom on the net is make sure government stays away from it!