Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) are among a group of Internet companies which likely stand for as much freedom with the Internet and little government interference, has filed a brief in support of the Federal Communications Commission in a net-neutrality case brought by Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ) and MetroPCS Communications Inc (NYSE:PCS).
This may be one of those cases of strange bedfellows, indeed.
The FCC passed what are called “net neutrality” regulations in late 2010, and Verizon (VZ) and MetroPCS (PCS) filed suit to have the regulations reversed. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the others – which have formed the Open Internet Coalition – have stepped in to support the rules, filing briefs with the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
The regulations at the heart of this dispute prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from accelerating access to web sites that have paid for the access, or to their own sites, in deference to other sites. In general, ISPs cannot discriminate against any legitimate web site and cellphone/wireless carriers cannot block any apps that directly compete with services they offer themselves.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the rest of its OIC compatriots stressed their support for the rules, writing that these FCC rules were appropriate to “encourage the deployment” of broadband services, including Internet access. Verizon argued that the FCC did not have authority to impose the rules and that they infringe on the company’s First Amendment rights.
However, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the rest of the OIC countered that argument with, “The First Amendment is not the Open Internet Rules’ victim; it is their beneficiary,” adding that Verizon, as an Internet provide, does not have speech rights of its own but rather should ensure that all voices on the Internet are able to be heard by customers.
Interesting that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) would all side with the federal government to ensure an open Internet experience. Are you surprised by this? How do you see this affecting Google in the long run in terms of its services and the company? Does Verizon have a beef? Is this a case that investors like billionaire Julian Robertson of Tiger Management should be watching?