Time to Bring Google Down a Peg or Three

Google is attempting to create two Internets – one for the commoners, one for the rich

google logoBeing a journalist gives me an in-built mistrust of large conglomerates, and a natural siding with the eternal underdogs, whoever they happen to be; put two people in a boxing ring – one short and one tall – I’ll cheer for the short guy every time.

Hence my growing, stomach-tightening suspicion towards the now-gigantic Internet search engine, Google.

With its newest move marrying Verizon in what both companies are calling a “non-deal," but what actually amounts to a joining of forces and policy to create a strategic direction that will culminate in an “Elite Internet”: two Internets – one for the commoners, the other for people with lots of money.

Both companies’ heads, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, want to brush aside this rather inconvenient media speculation about an Elite Internet, a little like BP found it inconvenient to answer journalists' questions about the Gulf oil spill. Thankfully, though, people like me and others with a critical nature, won’t let them re-spin their see-through argument.

So this news, aside from meaning it’s likely to kill smaller Internet service providers and their businesses, is a stunning example of where America and big businesses repeatedly lose touch with reality and attempt to create their own through bullying (see Goldman Sachs and economic meltdown as a recent example). The pharmaceutical companies have done it here, so have the oil companies and now, American People, you’re about to let the gate keepers of your Internet information do it too.

This may be a country where you can fulfill your dreams – and that is amazing and why I love it – but do you seriously want all the content, videos and movies you can now get free to suddenly come at a cost when you log on the web from your cellphone?

Google and Verizon want to make an entirely new – and this is the worst part – censored Internet that you will be provided with when you’re looking at the web on your phone, different to the web you will find on your home computer or laptop.

And anyone who can’t afford to be on that Elite Internet will be kicked off.

Verizon Wireless – which is the business trading name of the Cellco Partnership, a joint U.S.-U.K. telecommunications company – has allegedly got 93 million subscribers to its network in the United States. This is a large number of people it can influence in conjunction with Google’s international monopoly on running what we see on the Internet and how information is managed therein.

So, I say, is it time to shoot a warning shot across Google’s bow?

Google has already upset the book industry with its copyright manipulations of books it scans and publishes online at the same time as it, rather clandestinely, attempts to take over the book distribution business with the, as yet little known, “Google Cloud” which could destroy many small booksellers worldwide.

Google is under police investigation and upset hundreds of people in Australia by invading their privacy whilst taking pictures for Google’s Street View (the Australian government has poured scorn on Google’s business methods and its potentially immoral approach to business, basically calling Google a bunch of “criminals” for “accidentally” breaking Australia’s privacy laws and downloading thousands of people’s personal data as Google’s Street View vans passed by people’s homes).

Google is in big trouble in big China. That one caused an international diplomatic row.

And now Google is – in what smacks of one of those gloriously enticing American conspiracy theories – attempting to entirely re-mould the free public service that is the Internet and make you and business owners pay for it.

So, what can you do?

What about go use Yahoo or Bing instead, just for a couple of days. See how Google likes being taken down a peg. Okay, so it might not make much of an impact, but big corporations are afraid of only one thing and one thing alone: people power.

Careful how you tread Google, we’re watching you.

  • Ma'at

    Google … yet another corporation sticking it too us with the United States Government doing nothing.

  • Hethanangel

    This is the business cycle, which the digital media is not exempt from. Google has established itself as the Mac Daddy (Ironically through their user-friendly free services). But, like any business (Or society–Sociology 101), if they are not growing, they are dying.

    It is no new concept to get people ‘Hooked’ on your product, then change the game (Bait and switch has been around since the first trade routes. This is what makes 3 Card Monte such a successful game as well–win the first few rounds and end up spending all of your winnings along with your own investment back).

    The beauty, though, of Capitalism, is not only the power of the consumer, but the power of the press ;)

    Google may currently be the best but, they certainly are not the only service on the web.

    It's a no-brainer that a billion little guys, spending one dollar each, are still more profitable than a thousand big guys spending ten dollars…

    Just like all other forms of medias (As well as all other business models), Google and Verizon both will go through their fazes of growth and they will either stick with the principles that made them successful in the first place, or they will change their game and destroy their companies.

    No company, no government, no-bod-eeee, is bigger than the people that they rely on for their support (Whether it is in votes or actual cash money).

    The complaint that I have with people these days is their expectations of entitlement: Google, Facebook, nor any of the other companies that we are addicted to owes anyone anything, and where we got the notion that they do is beyond me ;/

    So what if Google and Verizon team up and think they can make more money by limiting their services to only those who can afford them? The market will adjust itself as users of their services fall off and find someone else.

    The real solution, it seems to me, is to form a means of trade that is more conducive to the economy–based on labor (Which can be monitored) rather than ‘Confidence’ which is a matter of speculation.

    Ahhhh, but in doing that–what on earth would the rich guy do with his time all day? That would make too much common sense I suppose…

    @ Scytherius,

    Why is this a government issue? Is Google a government entity? Do they hold the exclusive on the market? Is it a product that we will surely die without? Will we lose our First Amendment without Google? Is Verizon the only network provider? Do they hold the patent on all mobile phones?

    At the risk of sounding like El-Rushbo, I don't see how this is a government issue and not a private sector issue?

    Competition takes care of the market, and in case we haven't noticed, the more the government gets their dirty little beuracratic hands and small minds involved in things, the less power the market (And thus the little guy) has to curb and regulate itself. Should the government make Google give their services away for free?

    Anothony's Op-Ed piece along with a bazillion more (That will hilariously be indexed by Google rotf!) does more to correct the problem than all of the 114 (?) governments in the modern world combined can do through legisaltion ;/

    Nice piece Anthony ;)

    • Anthony Epiccreations

      Thankyou Hethangel…! That is a fantastically nuanced and educational response. Especially about the business processes, which make total sense, and your point about companies not owing us anything; except I disagree slightly that when they get “too big for their boots” that they should keep in mind who has put them inside those boots and not stamp all over those people…with said boots!

      It was good to write this piece – it felt right and important to do so – but the irony wasn't lost on me that it would be indexed by Google and that I had to use Google to research Verizon's subscription numbers! :)

      But I see The Wrap is continuing its Google, Facebook and Apple bashing today…