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April 2008

The fatal flaws in Lessig-Scott net neutrality editorial sermon

Self-appointed Information Commons messiah Larry Lessig and his Free Press acolyte Ben Scott, advance a slew of "beliefs" that they assiduously proselytize wherever they can gather an audience.

Google co-founder admits to discriminating against US content to improve search results

Google co-founder Sergy Brin, one of Google's most avid net neutrality proponents, candidly admitted today in Google's 1Q08 earnings call with investors, that Google "improved" its international search quality by "demoting non-country search results" on Google's improved country home pages.

This is interesting for a few reasons.

Google's Baaaaack!!! And the "kicker" from DoubleClick is still to come

Clearly the market badly under-estimated Google's strength and resilience in a slowing economy given the ~17% leap in Google's stock price in after hours trading.  

  • Google's notorious lack of openness with investors helped make the market inefficiently, way-over-cautious.

42% revenue growth for an $18b a year company is amazing.

  • It is also amazing for there to be a business of this size and global scope that strongly asserts to have a business model that is unaffected by the turmoil in the macro-economy.
  • It certainly suggests some market power and network effects at work here, because this strong performance and guidance on the effect of the macro-economy -- is not "normal."

What I find most interesting is I don't think that the market yet understands what a growth kicker the DoubleClick acquisition will be for Google going forward. Google was coy about it and did not connect-the-dots for investors -- that they clearly see.

Don't miss -- FCC's McDowell: why engineering problems should be solved by engineers not bureaucrats

The wisdom and clarity of thought prize at the FCC's enbanc hearing at Stanford goes to --- FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell!

I urge you to take a few moments and read the following excerpt from Commissioner McDowell's statement yesterday -- it really gets to the heart of the matter of what the appropriate role is for the FCC in broadband network management issues.

"...In their joint press announcement, Comcast and BitTorrent expressed the view that “these technical issues can be worked out through private business discussions without the need for government intervention.”

Bringing sunlight to Professor Lessig's Orwellian Doublespeak lecture to the FCC

Not only was I stunned that the FCC allowed Professor Larry Lessig to lecture for a half an hour at the FCC's en banc hearing at Stanford, I was even more stunned no one challenged his blatant misrepresentation and Orwellian "doublespeak" in support of net neutrality.

  • Remember in George Orwell's "1984," how "Big Brother" communicated that: "war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance  is strength" -- creating an upside-down-world where if an idea is repeated enough times... it somehow becomes true?

Here are three of the Orwellian "doublespeak" gems from Lessig's lecture at the FCC en banc hearing:

  1. "Adam Smith" would have favored net neutrality regulation because all companies aspire to be "monopolists."
  2. The "burden of proof" is on those who don't want to change the law to mandate net neutrality.
  3. Being "conservative" means supporting FCC regulation of the Internet.

First, I literally could not believe my ears when Professor Lessig had the unmitigated gall to blatantly misrepresent in his lecture that if Adam Smith were to talk to the FCC that day, that Adam Smith would find a quote from his laissez-faire, free-market tome "Wealth of Nations" -- to somehow defend Professor Lessig's call for preemptive FCC regulation of the Internet. 

Hance Haney finds more Orwellian doublespeak in Lessig's FCC Lecture on net neutrality

Kudos to Hance Haney of the Discovery Institute, who in his Tech Liberation Front blog post: "What did he say?, found another big misrepresentation whopper in Professor Lessig's lecture to the FCC on net neutrality last week.

  • Hance pointed out in elegant detail, that Professor Lessig took the extensive quotes about the important value of end-to-end arrchitecture from former FCC Chief Economist Gerald Foulhaber in 2000 -- completely out-of-context.
    • Hance: "Normally when you quote someone extensively but selectively and you’re making a different (arguably opposite) point, you acknowledge that."

  • Like I explained in my previous post "Bringing sunlight to Professor Lessig's Orwellian Doublespeak lecture at the FCC" I identified three clear instances of Professor Lessig misreprenting the views of others or weaknesses in his net neutrality argument.  

    • Hance's keen memory and ear identified a big fourth example.

    • I'll bet others heard additional misrepresentations or half-truths in Professor Lessig's FCC lecture -- as four misrepresentation examples clearly represent a pattern of not shooting straight to the public on net neutrality.

My letter to Senate Committee on Net Neutrality asking: Why now? Why worsen recession?

Below is the full text of the letter I sent to all members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate leadership questioning why of all times -- now -- for pushing net neutrality?

April 22, 2008

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye

722 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510-1102

ATTN: Telecom Legislative Assistant

Dear Chairman Inouye:

Dick Armey's clarity of thought and perspective on net neutrality

Be sure to read Dick Armey's succinct analysis and perspective on net neutrality in his op ed: "Spare the Net."

  • I am a big fan of Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey -- he is one of the true free-marketeer giants of our era.

Takeaways from Senate net neutrality hearing; & proposed FCC framework on network management

The big surprise of the hearing was that Chairman Martin was a last minute witness. The Committee created a new first panel for just Chairman Martin, which ended up consuming about 60% of the allotted time for the whole hearing, and which was also the prime time when most of the Senators and press were in attendance. This surprise testimony practically relegated the other panel, which was expected to be the main event, to more of sideshow status.

Overall, this hearing was slightly more balanced than its House counterparts. Chairman Innouye continued his very measured and balanced approach, in that he said things that each side wanted to hear.

  • Given that the Senate Commerce Committee is historically quite bipartisan, and that this committee remains split largely down the middle, I doubt if we will see much real movement on Dorgan-Snowe's net neutrality bill this session.
  • If Chairman Inouye actually thought net neutrality legislation should make progress, he wouldn't have waited fifteen months since the introduction of the Dorgan-Snowe bill to hold the first hearing on it.
  • It appears the real purpose of this hearing was basically to let off steam and throw the net neutrality activists a bone. 

The real import of the hearing was two-fold: 

NPR on public libraries' concern over Google's aspiration for one world library of books

National Public Radio's All Things Considered" did a great 5 minute segment on: "Some Libraries Shun Google in Book Battle."

The story is set up as who should control the world's future virtual libraries as libraries and Google rush to digitize the world's books?

  • Several public libraries object to Google digitizing all their books and are doing it themselves.
  • They worry about a "single corporate entity" having so much power over the world's information.
  • If the old adage is true, that information is power, there is reason to worry.

I note this story because these libraries are a spontaneous and very real grass roots response to Google's megalomaniacal mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally available and useful."

  • These public library advocates worried out loud about how much more effective censorship could be if "a single corporate entity" controlled the world's main library and how would they respond to political pressure to ban a book or an author?

Google should take note. Here is a grass roots rebellion brewing from their left flank, which looks un-willing to be bought off by Google to go away. 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths