The back-and-forth between AT&T, Google, and the FCC over Google Voice’s blocking of some rural telephone numbers continues, and it’s getting even nastier. AT&T’s latest letter to the FCC attempts to undermine Google’s recent argument that it’s blocking exorbitantly expensive calls to some numbers in part because they are associated with sex lines. In fact, AT&T says, some of the numbers being blocked include an ambulance service, church, Benedictine nuns, doctors, and more. Oh, and that’s not AT&T’s only problem with Google — it also thinks that the FCC should consider regulating the search giant on the web as well.
The letter (which we’ve embedded below) is long, first detailing in depth AT&T’s problems with Google Voice, which it says should be held to the same rules as AT&T and other tradional carriers are. The letter then goes on a lengthy argument making the case that if the FCC fails to regulate Google now, the search giant could use its “gatekeeper control” over the Internet to block access to applications:
But Google’s call blocking begs an even more important question that the Commission must consider as it evaluates whether to adopt rules regarding Internet openness. If the Commission is going to be a “smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet,” then shouldn’t its “beat” necessarily cover the entire Internet neighborhood, including Google? Indeed, if the Commission cannot stop Google from blocking disfavored telephone calls as Google contends, then how could the Commission ever stop Google from also blocking disfavored websites from appearing in the results of its search engine; or prohibit Google from blocking access to applications that compete with its own email, text messaging, cloud computing and other services; or otherwise prevent Google from abusing the gatekeeper control it wields over the Internet?
The letter continues after that, detailing all of the times when Google may have exercised its power to somehow restrict free speech or show favoritsm toward certain political views that were in line with its own. AT&T even pulls out Google’s famous “don’t be evil motto”, asserting that Google should have “no objection to abiding by the Internet Policy Statement and other net neutrality principles it advocates with respect to Google Voice and all of the Internet-based services, applications and content that it offers.”
Finally, AT&T summarizes its arguments with a document called “The Truth About Google Voice and the Open Internet Principles“, where it presents four supposed lies being told by Google, each tagged with the heading “What Google Wants You to Believe” (duh duh duh), followed by AT&T’s response, “The Truth“. That document begins on page 9 of the embed below.
It’s all worth a read, but once again it’s hard to listen to AT&T’s argument’s for net neutrality when it concludes the letter by saying it’s against changes in policy in the first place. Still, AT&T does raise some interesting points, and it’s likely we’ll be hearing similar debates as the line between telecommunication services and Internet services continues to blur. For now though, the FCC doesn’t seem to buying the net neutrality angle. From the Washington Post:
Sources at the FCC who spoke on the condititon of anonymity said the FCC inquiry focuses on the question of potential violations of telecommunications law. The agency does not plan to look into potential violations of net neutrality — or open-Internet guidelines — because officials didn’t appear to agree with such claims.
Document via The Washington Post.