Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Two Faces of Google

Image via WikipediaThere are two interesting developments over that past few days that shows the two sides of Google. The first is the lawsuit brought on Google by Oracle. Oracle recently purchased Sun Microsystems that developed Java. Oracle is suing Google because the Android mobile operating system is based on Java and Google has not paid any royalties. Oracle is saying that Google is using the Java Micro Edition which is not part of the open source licensing agreement. Google is saying it has developed its own Java virtual micro environment and that the lawsuit is an attack on the open-source community.

Sun MicrosystemsThe other story relates to Google and Verizon Communications putting forward a joint proposal to the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality. Net neutrality is the concept that implies all users of the Internet have equal access and bandwidth to all part of the Internet. This means that large corporation will not have priority over personal communications online. Your online bill comes to you as fast as an email from a friend. What Goggle and Verizon is suggesting in its proposal is that net neutrality is applicable only to part of the Internet but suggest blocking content and application on wireless platform.
So on one hand, we have Google claiming the rights and privileges of the open-source community but on the other hand, they are saying that they want to limit access to part of the Internet. These actions clearly show the two faces of Google and how they spin the facts and the technology to suit there influence on the Internet. I do not know enough details about the Oracle lawsuit to make judgement on whether Google infringes on Java's licensing agreements but I do know that limiting the Internet by giving special treatment to a group of users is wrong.

In the early days of the Internet, I used to give talks to novices about how to use this emerging technology. At the beginning of my talk, I would lead a discussion on who owns the Internet. The most popular response was Bill Gates. I would assure the group that no ones owns the Internet but now it appears that Google is trying to take it over. Let's hope that they do not succeed!
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