By Joel Rothstein
Google Inc. co-founder and President Sergey Brin met with
U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday to press for legislation that would prevent
Internet access providers from charging Web sites more for faster
"The only way you can have a fast lane that is useful -- that people
will pay a premium for -- is if there are slow lanes," Brin told
reporters after meeting with Republican John McCain, a member of the
Senate committee that oversees telecommunications issues.
Google, Microsoft Corp. and other major Internet site operators have
joined with small Web site owners to oppose broadband providers such
as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications that want to offer faster
network performance to companies that pay more. The issue has been
dubbed "net neutrality" by those who oppose a two-tier system of
access and pricing.
Brin acknowledged large companies such as Google would be able to cut
deals with the network owners to get their content through. But he
added that Google searches are only valuable if consumers can then
quickly access the sites listed in the results.
"The thesis is that some content providers will pay for premium
service. Why are they paying? Just because they feel charitable toward
the telcos and ISPs?" Brin asked. "I assume they are paying because
otherwise they would have worse performance, or maybe it won't really
The U.S House of Representatives may vote as early as this week on a
telecommunications reform bill that does not include the net
neutrality protection sought by Google.
But the bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission to
enforce the agency's September 2005 broadband policy statement that
says consumers are entitled to access the content and applications of
Critics like Brin say these provisions do not go far enough and they
hope to get stronger language in the Senate's version of a telecoms
reform bill. Brin said he "did not know where McCain will come out on
Clad in jeans and sneakers, the billionaire Silicon Valley executive
said his company is new to Washington lobbying.
Nonetheless, the seven-year-old company has found itself at the center
of several political storms in recent months. It successfully battled
the Justice Department to avoid handing over search records and
absorbed severe congressional criticism over its business practices in
"Our reputation certainly suffered" from reports that Google's Chinese
site -- www.google.cn -- did not show search results on topics
critical of the Chinese government, he said.
But he said only 1 percent of Chinese users use google.cn, while the
majority uses the unfiltered www.google.com.
"We are not actually censoring in China," he added.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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