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October 2009

Advertising Agencies Urge DOJ to Approve Microsoft-Yahoo Search Agreement

In stark contrast to their opposition to the Google-Yahoo ad agreement, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4As) is now urging the DOJ to quickly approve the Microsoft-Yahoo search agreement because they "believe that Yahoo! and Microsoft's proposal to combine their technologies and search platforms is good for advertisers, marketing services agencies, web publishers, and consumers."

  • This letter is powerful evidence that the advertising industry remains deeply concerned about Google's dominance of search advertising, and welcomes the prospect of a more viable search advertising competitive alternative -- i.e. the proposed Microsoft-Yahoo's search agreement.

FCC's Harvard Broadband Study Flunks Core Tests

In August, the FCC commissioned the Harvard Berkman Center to conduct a "Review of Broadband Studies" "to help inform the FCC's efforts in developing the National Broadband Plan."  

  • The Harvard draft report flunks several core tests necessary for its fndings to have credibility.

    Flunks "independence" test: The FCC touted in its announcement that the report would be an "independent review" and the report itself claims to be an "independent" assessment.

    • If the FCC wanted an "independent" external review, why was their no open notification or open bidding process for this important FCC project to allow transparency and competition to bolster confidence in the "independence" claim?
    • Why was the study sole-sourced to only one entity, and to an entity well-known to have strong well-developed advocacy views that broadband should be a public utility, and not a more widely-recognized "independent" entity without a publicly obvious stake in the outcome?   

    Flunks the "comprehensive" test: The FCC claimed in the announcement that the review would be "comprehensive."

Goobris Alert: "We want to be Santa Claus"

I kid you not. Google's latest antitrust defense, from the mouth of Dana Wagner, Google's lead antitrust lawyer, is: "We want to be Santa Claus. We want to make lots of toys that people like playing with. But if you don't want to play with our toys, you've got us."

  • See the quote for yourself at the very end of a Globe and Mail article entitled: "Google: we're not evil and we're not a monopoly either."
    • Google's Mr. Wagner continues: “In a West Coast company run by engineers, I don't think there was much attention paid to being in Ottawa, being in D.C. and telling your story,” Mr. Wagner says. “If you don't tell your story, other people do it for you.

Let me attempt to unpack the irony of this new story/metaphor of which Google has taken ownership. 

Most companies when they tell their corporate "story" try to "put their best foot forward," but no one but Google would think to try and slip jolly megalomaniacal corpulence down the narrow chimney of public credibility.  

Only Google would have so little real-world self-awareness as to choose to wrap itself in the beloved mythical role of Santa Claus who has the unique power to decide who has been good or "evil" during the last year, and the unique power to reward those who have been "good" in Google's eyes with toys and punish those who have been "evil" with coal in their stocking. 

Only Google would think it was good PR to allude to Google's secret search algorithms and auction "quality scores" as a worldwide "naughty and nice" list.

Will FCC Exempt Googleopoly from Anti-Competitive Behavior Enforcement?

The litmus test of whether the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules are really endeavoring to prevent anti-competitive behavior on the Internet (and not about turning private broadband networks into a public utility), will be whether the rules apply to all Internet competitors, which could be anti-competitive, like the existing consensus FCC Broadband Policy Statement already does. 

  • If reports prove correct, the FCC will propose to remove the existing FCC net neutrality principle #4 that "consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers and content providers," and that new net neutrality regulations apply only to broadband ISPs.
    • Such a change would be new anti-competition policy and completely contrary to existing U.S. pro-competition law/policy, and FCC precedents.
    • Such a change would also not be neutral or fair, but arbitrary and capricious.

Why an FCC Googleopoly exemption from Net neutrality would be transparently capricious.

First, there is more evidence of violations against net neutrality by one company, Google, in one year, than there is evidence against the entire broadband sector over the last five years! 

More un-economics nonsense from FreePress: Regulation does not discourage private investment

Does anyone else see the irony of a staunchly anti-business and anti-property activist organization like FreePress -- which openly advocates for an information commons and a broadband public utility model -- attempting to be credible doing private investment analysis for the FCC? 

  • Mr. Derek Turner of Free Press wrote  "Finding the Bottom Line: The truth about network neutrality & investment." 
  • The last time FreePress attempted economics in a public forum, FreePress asked in a letter to Congress "whether above-cost... pricing for broadband constitutes an unfair business practice." 
    • Given that FreePress was not aware that "above cost... pricing" is called profit and has always been legal in America, despite FreePress' views to the contrary, call me skeptical about FreePress' competence and genuineness in attempting private investment analysis.

If FreePress does not believe in free enterprise or private property, and does not understand concepts like profit, I am doubtful they can accurately or objectively analyze the economics or the business case for private long-term capital investments. 

Mr. Turner tries desperately and unsuccessfully to assemble "evidence" to prove the ridiculous assertion that regulation does not deter private investment.

Google-Twitter search agreement delayed for DOJ antitrust review?

Microsoft publicly announced it has already launched a beta of bing Twitter that incorporates Twitter tweets into Microsoft's search results, while Google also announced an agreement with Twitter, but said in an announcement blog post that: "we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months."

The glaring question is why Google, which prides itself on speed and innovation, and which routinely launches new products and services in beta, will not offer a Twitter product for "months."

The most logical conclusion is what I blogged and tweeted about on October 9th: "Will Google seek DOJ approval of any Twitter agreement?"

Best way to preserve an Open Internet is to preserve pro-competition policies -- press release on FCC NPRM

NetCompetition.org Comments on FCC Open Internet NPRM

“The best way to preserve the open Internet is to preserve current pro-competition policy”

WASHINGTON – In response to the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed Open Internet NPRM today, NetCompetition.org Chairman Scott Cleland offered these comments for attribution:

Takeaways from FCC's Proposed Open Internet Regs

The FCC's proposed Open Internet regulations (NPRM) are sweeping and audacious.

First, the FCC proposed rules are audaciously attempting to implement the introduced-but-never-passed Markey bill (HR 3458) entitled:  the "Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009." The purpose, premises, language, and core positions are nearly identical for anyone willing to forensically compare the NPRM and HR 3458

Google plays with matches and starts a regulation fire

Like the child that plays with matches is surprised when the fire he started threatens to burn his own house, Google CEO Eric Schmidt shared his gulity conscience with the Washington Post last week --  i.e. that the net neutrality regulation fire Google started and fanned, would be "terrible," if it burned Google and "led the government to involve itself as a regulator of the broader Internet."

  • Lobbying the Washington Post, after its editorial, "The FCC's Heavy hand," opposed net neutrality, Google's CEO Schmidt admitted to the Post that: "It is possible for the Government to screw the Internet up, big-time."
    • I wonder if anyone asked Mr. Schmidt if it is possible that the Government could screw broadband competition up, big-time?

Did it not occur to Google that bankrolling a flame-thrower-style net neutrality campaign urging preemptive, draconian regulation to prevent a potential problem, might not torch the decade of strong bipartisan consensus and calm in the Congress and at the FCC -- to not regulate or tax the Internet?

  • If Google really feared that "government regulation could screw the Internet up, big-time"... wouldn't Google stop screaming at the top of its lungs "Potential fire!" Potential fire! Potential fire! in a Washington theatre filled with legislators and regulators...  

 

  

More evidence Google's not neutral... and seeks to be the supreme arbiter of "truth" on the Internet

Google again has blocked search advertising that promotes political views that Google does not share.

  • On the morning of the FCC's net neutrality vote last week, Bret Glass of ExtremeTech.com tried to advertise his white paper, that advocated a light regulatory touch, on Google Adwords only to find that Google blocked his ad as not meeting their "guidelines." (See Mr. Glass' full recounting of this non-neutral content blocking incident at the end of this post.) 
    • This is not the first time Google has blocked content that did not comport with Google's political/policy agenda. For example, Google blocked anti-Moveon.org ads proposed by a U.S. Senator's campaign.

The "relevance" of this evidence of net neutrality violations by Google, to the FCC's just-proposed net neutrality regulations, is that the FCC's clearly stated purposes are: to prevent companies with market power from infringing on free speech and to ensure that those with market power are transparent about their market practices that affect the free flow of information. 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths