Google just released a staggering new feature to Gmail: the ability to make free phone calls to any real phone in the country from your computer. At least for people like me who are online a fair portion of the time, this changes everything in the area of telephones. It’s really, really cool.
But then I remembered: wasn’t Google just in the news recently about something else? And wasn’t that piece of news that they were cheating on their users with a telephone company? The news (in case you missed it) was that Google and Verizon announced a deal whereby Verizon could fast-track some content to your browser (if the creators of the content pay up), leaving other content to languish at slower download speeds. It’s a deal that’s been universally panned as directly transgressing net neutrality. See the video below for more information.
“Can you hear me now?” is Verizon’s ubiquitous ad campaign, whereas “Don’t Be Evil” is Google’s corporate motto. If you’re concerned about the prospects of this deal, go to SaveTheInternet.com and sign their petition! There’s also a video there of Al Franken explaining net neutrality in a less shouty tone. Or if you’re scornful of petitions, get involved in a bigger way! Put your time where your ethics are.
Anyways, the phone-in-your-inbox thing that Google just came out with is fantastic, but I am very suspicious that it’s causally linked to their deal with Verizon. And if this fantastic new bauble was intended to make us forget our recent outcry at Google’s corporate misbehavior, it may have worked, temporarily. But let’s be adults, too. Learn about net neutrality, and remember on Election Day. It’s the actual current battlefront in the fight for freedom of speech.