Google is known for its "do no evil philosophy" which sees it doing everything from planting trees to investing in alternative energy and greening its servers. This leads some to suspect that Google is a push-over. However, when it comes to important issues or people it feels are evil-doers, Google pulls no punches.
This week Google lashed out at what it feels a trend towards cronyism in the capital. In particular, it targeted Scott Cleland, who had written a divisive piece on how Google was failing to pay its "fair share of the Internet's cost". The only problem is that Mr. Cleland is employed by AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and other communications companies to run a 24-7 anti-Google group. The telecoms are fighting Google's policy of net-neutrality saying that websites should have to pay to be recognized.
Mr. Cleland has not gone lightly on Google. He's written such rhetoric as "Google steals" and says Google connives in a "modern-day Machiavellian plot". He even goes as far as to insult how the company's executives dress.
While Google has led such comments mostly slide in the past, it decided the time had come to fight back. Richard Whitt, Google's Washington telecom counsel, in a fiery blog post lashed out against Mr. Cleland and what he calls "payola punditry", a disturbing trend in Washington D.C. He states, "We don't fault Mr. Cleland for trying to do his job. But it's unfortunate that the phone and cable companies funding his work would rather launch poorly researched broadsides than help solve consumers' problems."
Responding to Mr. Cleland's insinuations that YouTube was killing the internet with excess traffic, he states, "Mr. Cleland's calculations about YouTube's impact are similarly flawed. Here he confuses "market share" with 'traffic share.' YouTube's share of video traffic is decidedly smaller than its market share. And typical YouTube traffic takes up far less bandwidth than downloading or streaming a movie."
With high-definition content streaming through iTunes and other outlets at unprecedented rates, the low-quality video streams are only a drop in the bucket in comparison. No doubt YouTube has a great deal of total traffic, but it likely uses no more than other large bandwidth users, and likely less than some like iTunes.
Mr. Cleland insists that there's nothing wrong with the industry paying him to attack Google. As to his sponsors he states, "I am fully disclosed."
On the criticisms of his calculations, he responds, "I took a difficult subject that's never been written about before...This was a straightforward, transparent attempt to estimate something of significance."
Google and its allies -- eBay, Amazon.com -- are according to some analysts looking to left-leaning President elect Barack Obama to help stomp out patent mongers, pass sweeping net neutrality initiatives, prevent data caps on "unlimited" accounts and data throttling, and open up the unused white space in the FCC spectrum. However, they may be in for a tough fight as the conservatives in Congress backed by the telecoms are looking to block these moves.