Google has been forced to deny rumours that it was in private talks with US telecommunications company Verizon to permit prioritisation for content over its network for those that were willing to pay for the privilege.
The move would have threatened the concept of net-neutrality, a principle on which the Internet was created that states that no restrictions be placed on how the flow of data is prioritised on the internet.
Google, a long-time advocate of net neutrality, was quick to deny that the claims, made originally by the New York Times, stating on its Public Policy Twitter feed that, “@NYTimes is wrong. We've not had any convos with VZN about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open internet.”
Ironically, the rumours came as Google and major US internet carriers, including Verizon, ComCast and AT&T, had been in conversations under the auspices of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss how net-neutrality best be adhered to.
Despite the denials, the FCC has called a halt to the discussions between the companies.
"We have called off this round of stakeholder discussions," said Edward Lazarus, chief of staff for Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.
"It has been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet. All options remain on the table." Lazarus said of the meetings, in a statement.
"We're relieved to see that the FCC now apparently finds dangerous side deals from companies like Verizon and Google to be distasteful and unproductive," Derek Turner, research director at the public interest group Free Press, told Reuters.
Ofcom has recently opened up a discussion paper to work through the thorny issues of traffic management and net neutrality.