Before Google went evil

Google wasn’t always a carrier-humping, net-neutrality, surrender money, and TechCrunch has video to prove it:

For those who don’t follow tech news, Google pulled a stunning about-face on net-neutrality this week, teaming up with Verizon, the very company it pilloried on the issue, in an agreement to abandon the concept of neutrality for fast-growing wireless portions of the Internet, and for whatever new transmission technologies happen along in future.

The do-no-evil company’s reversal stunned the tech world. Unabashed Google admirer Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do, called it a Munich Agreement, a description Josh Marshall of TPM Media said was “a bit inflammatory, but pretty much captures it.” Added Jarvis: “Pass the sauerkraut, Herr Chamberlain.”

Wired’s Ryan Singel, too, offered trenchant analysis, and dug out this ringing declaration from a 2007 Google blogpost:

The nation’s spectrum airwaves are not the birthright of any one company. They are a unique and valuable public resource that belong to all Americans. The FCC’s auction rules are designed to allow U.S. consumers — for the first time — to use their handsets with any network they desire, and and use the lawful software applications of their choice.

Google defended itself, weakly, in a blog post by Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel.

To underscore the totality of Google’s reversal, TechCrunch produced this letter to Google users by none other than CEO Eric Schmidt.

A Note to Google Users on Net Neutrality:

The Internet as we know it is facing a serious threat. There’s a debate heating up in Washington, DC on something called “net neutrality” – and it’s a debate that’s so important Google is asking you to get involved. We’re asking you to take action to protect Internet freedom.

In the next few days, the House of Representatives is going to vote on a bill that would fundamentally alter the Internet. That bill, and one that may come up for a key vote in the Senate in the next few weeks, would give the big phone and cable companies the power to pick and choose what you will be able to see and do on the Internet.

Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody – no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional – has equal access. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can’t pay.

Creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are all at stake in this fight. Please call your representative (202-224-3121) and let your voice be heard.

Thanks for your time, your concern and your support.

Eric Schmidt

Google has been a huge force for consumer rights in this incredibly important field. Its defection is a blow that will force defenders of an open Internet to organize.