has a piece about how Rick Whitt, Google’s new “Washington Telecom and Media Counsel,” attempted to tone down the fears — stoked recently by Google Senior Policy Council Andrew McLaughlin — that the Internet giant was going soft on Net Neutrality.over at GigaOM
Google’s chief challenge in “messaging” on Net Neutrality is this: how fond does it wants to be to government solutions to problems, still undefined, that the company may or may not face? In other words, will Google retain the generally laissez-faire attitude of Silicon Valley types, embodied in the culture of Creative Commons’ liberalized copyright, voice-over-Internet-protocol’s route-around spirit, and Electronic Frontier Foundation’s hacker impulses? Or, by contrast, will it adapt into the spirit of intervention and telecom insider pleading that became central to the Washington culture of Bell rivals MCI and (the old) AT&T?
Even before McLaughlin’s statements, Google’s Washington Policy Council Alan Davidson was attempting to push the neutrality issue into the competition box and move it over the Federal Trade Commission. This is certainly smart politics: the company could hardly have less influence at the Federal Communications Commission. (CDT, it should be noted, is kind of a kissing cousin, if not a soul sister, of EFF — although far more willing to negotiate with Washington.)
Rick Whitt, by contrast, hails from MCI, a company with a long list of grievances against the industry that swallowed it up. Watching how the culture and predisposition of Googlers who hail from MCI, CDT and ICANN — the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers –shakes out will be one of the more interesting stories in Internet policy for months or even years to come.