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Google and Facebook battle over Internet control

By David Goldman, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Facebook and Google, two of the world's biggest and most influential online companies, are duking it out in a very public battle over who should control the Internet.

That war of words continued on Thursday, when Google wrote a rebuttal to responses on its joint policy proposal with Verizon about an open-Internet standard known as "Net neutrality." The rebuttal comes a day after Facebook said it disagreed with the substance of Google and Verizon's pact.

In a 1,133-word blog post -- 361 words longer than the actual proposal -- Google produced a fact sheet to counter what it called "inaccuracies" about its position.

Google maintained that it hadn't "sold out" on Net neutrality, even though it previously supported an opposing position on how wireless networks should be regulated. The company said that "given political realities," legislation on the topic was going nowhere, and it had to come up with a compromise.

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) also said that it and Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) are not trying to hijacking the debate on Net neutrality.

"We're not so presumptuous to think that any two businesses could -- or should -- decide the future of this issue," the company said in its blog. "We're simply trying to offer a proposal to help resolve a debate which has largely stagnated after five years."

The Google-Facebook battle began on Monday, when Google and Verizon announced a joint proposal suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission regulate "wired" broadband Internet connections differently than wireless networks and new Internet technologies. The companies argued that it would be improper for the government to apply the same rules on the mobile market as the wireline broadband market, since the wireless market is more competitive and rapidly changing.

That proposal was met with widespread criticism by Net neutrality supporters, who want regulators to legally block service providers like the telecoms from choosing what kinds of online content -- or even which individual content providers -- they will prioritize on their networks for faster delivery.

The most prominent opponent of the Google-Verizon pact was Facebook, which said Wednesday in a statement that it supports Net neutrality "for both landline and wireless networks." In a not-so-subtle dig at Google and Verizon, the social network said the Internet should be "accessible to innovators -- regardless of their size or wealth."

With more than 150 million users connecting to the site through phones, Facebook has a large stake in the success of its mobile enterprise. The company says the people who use its social network on their mobile devices are twice as active as non-mobile users.

Neither Facebook nor Google ever mentioned the other by name in their responses, but each made its target clear. Google and Verizon's proposal was designed to bring to an end a divisive argument on Net neutrality, but if anything, it's only added fuel to the fire.  To top of page

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