Google and Verizon sign net neutrality agreement, begin the end of net neutrality? (update: Google, Verizon deny claims)

It's been a bumpy road for net neutrality in the US, and the latest word on the subject, of a partnership between Verizon and Google, could result in American internet freedom taking one step forward and two steps back. Last year, the two companies said together that they were all for net neutrality regardless of the source being a traditional or wireless ISP. Now, according to Bloomberg, they may have changed their tune somewhat, striking a deal that, up front, prevents Verizon from gimping traffic it doesn't like on its DSL and FiOS networks.

That sounds good, but according to Politico the deal still allows Verizon to "prioritize certain traffic" -- more or less defeating the whole purpose if true. More troublingly, Verizon is able to do whatever it wants when it comes to managing wireless broadband, through mobile hotspots or, indeed, the plethora of Android handsets it now offers. Mind you, neither company is coming forward to discuss these supposed plans (Google saying it has "nothing to announce at this point") so this could all be much ado about nothing. We certainly hope it is, especially since we're talking about two companies who last year pledged they wanted to "ensure the openness of the web around the world."

Update: Phew... we think. Google's Public Policy Twitter account just belted out a denial of these claims, straight-up saying that the New York Times "is wrong." Here's the full tweet, which certainly makes us feel a bit more at ease. For now. "@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."

Update 2: Verizon's now also issued a statement and, like Google, it's denying the claims in the original New York Times report. It's as follows:

"The New York Times article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect."