The New York Times reports Google is in talks with phone company Verizon to give the search giant's data a special route through Verizon's network. Conceiveably, Google's properties -- YouTube, Gmail and, of course, the search tool -- could fill your requests faster than its competitors.
Google, however, denies the report entirely.
"The New York Times is quite simply wrong," Mistique Cano of Google told Computerworld, "We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open Internet."
Critics say if the reports are true, at risk here is the concept of net neutrality, which holds as a maxim all data is equal.
The best analogy could be a library. If you wish to check out a book, you stand in line at the checkout counter. All books are equal. Under a different system, however, a publisher could pay the library to give preference to certain books. So a library visitor who wants to check out a book published by Crown Publishing, for instance, gets to go to the head of the line. That concept would leave library customers seething -- and it seems to have the same effect on Internet users.
The FCC, which supports net neutrality, tried recently to prevent Internet companies from giving certain data preference, but its authority to do so was questioned by the courts.* Congress may rewrite its laws to give the FCC more power to enforce the policy. Meanwhile the Commission has been meeting informally with Internet companies and service providers to discuss the future of data shaping.
*The case involved Comcast. NBC, which runs this website, is in the process of being purchased by Comcast.