Report: Google, Facebook 'quiet' when it comes to net neutrality

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Facebook are apparently leaving start-ups on their own to wage war with proposed FCC rules that would permit Internet fast lanes.

Lobbyists from their organizations have been noticeably absent in hounding the federal agency since it proposed rules that would let cable and telephone companies offer special fast lanes on the Internet if a company's willing to pay more for the privilege, leading some industry watchers to believe that the two may not be as aggressive in opposing the move as in previous years.

"They've definitely faded into the background and that's very troubling," Paul Sieminski, general counsel of WordPress blogging platform Automattic, told Bloomberg Businessweek. "A lot tech companies look to Google."

In the past that look would have seen advertisements from the tech giant calling for Web traffic neutrality and asking users to contact legislators about the issue. Co-founder Sergey Brin even went to Washington to make the case for a level playing field.

Now, "there's a danger that they, having climbed the ladder, might pull it up after them," Columbia University law professor Timothy Wu said, noting that both Google and Facebook are "quiet and they're not spending much."

What they have said, though, appears to contradict concerns. In a May 7 letter to the agency, Google and more than 140 other companies called the proposal a "grave threat to the Internet." The concern among industry watchers, though, is that they've said nothing more--a concern that was reinforced by Google spokeswoman Niki Christoff in an e-mail to Bloomberg.

Facebook was a bit more forthcoming, with the company's Washington-based spokeswoman emailing Bloomberg that "Facebook has always been supportive of net neutrality principles and committed to advancing a free and open Internet" and "will continue to work with others in the industry to ensure adoption of rules that will protect the open Internet."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg Businessweek story

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