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FCC’s Arbitrary Competition Policy -- Edge Platforms Can’t Be Gatekeepers?

Looking backwards makes it hard to see what’s right in front of you.

Looking backwards at 1934-era Title II telephone utility law, the FCC concluded in its 2015 Open Internet Order that only broadband providers could be “gatekeepers” warranting net neutrality regulation to “protect and promote the “virtuous cycle” that drives innovation and investment on the Internet.

That’s because the FCC is apparently oblivious to the very different 21st century communications “gatekeepers” right in front of them that command dramatically more potential “gatekeeper” market power than any broadband provider.

The FCC should listen to what one 21st century communications provider, which commands well over a billion social and communications users globally, has to say about the dominance of edge platforms.

Search + Android + Chrome = Google’s Gatekeeper Inner-net Regime

Wake up world, you’ve been disintermediated.

Google now essentially stands between you and most everyone and everything on the Internet.

Google’s dominant search engine + its dominant Android operating system (OS) + its world-leading Chrome web browser + its uniquely-comprehensive, Internet utility functionality of 193 products, services and tools = a virtual Google “Inner-net” regime.

Google’s Inner-net has practically assimilated most all of what the public open-source WorldWideWeb does for Internet users and much, much, more. And it also has practically insinuated Google-controlled code into a virtual intermediary position between most everyone and most everything on the Internet.

The FCC’s Googleopoly Gatekeeper Navigation Device Set-up

It’s the FCC-forcing-proprietary-video-to-be-free-to-Google stupid!

That’s a Jim Carville-esque paraphrase of the FCC’s AllVid commercial navigation device proposal to focus the mind.

The FCC spins its AllVid proposal as pro-competition in isolation when in reality the evidence will prove it profoundly anticompetitive overall.

Questioning Google’s Extraordinary Influence over U.S. Government Decisions

Does the impartial administration of justice, the integrity of the U.S. Government, and the oath of all federal employees to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, require that private interests not be allowed to supplant the public interest?

Why Google Can’t Criticize EU Much for Ruling it Dominant & Anticompetitive

In the next several weeks, expect the EC’s Competition Directorate to decide that Google is in fact dominant with >90% share of Internet search in Europe and that Google has abused its search dominance by biasing its own Shopping service over competitors. It also could formally charge Google for abuse of its search dominance in contractually tying Google Search and other search-driven apps like Maps, YouTube, etc. to Android to extend its search dominance to mobile search and to the operating system market where Android now owns >80% share.

In taking a most extreme and ultimately indefensible legal and PR position, that the EU antitrust case is “wrong as a matter of fact, law and economics,” Google has painted itself into a corner, PR-wise and politically, much more than many appreciate. Why?

Leaked Google Financials Tie EU Search and Android Antitrust Cases Together

Summary:  Google Android’s >70% monopoly-size gross profit margins were made public for the first time when Android’s 2014 summary financials were disclosed in the Oracle v. Google copyright case (as evidence of Android’s commercial success to rebut Google’s claim that Android’s unauthorized use of Oracle’s Java APIs was “fair use” not commercial activity.) Combining this newly disclosed information with what we already know, Android likely generated a little less than a third of Alphabet’s 2015 revenues, but over a third of its 2015 gross profits. It is now clearer that the formal EU antitrust investigation of Android contractually tying Google’s dominant search to gain >80% share of the world’s smartphones will result in another EU Statement of Objections that could eclipse the current EU abuse of search dominance case in antitrust liability over time.  

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How Google-Android’s “Big MetaData” Collection Model Is Anticompetitive

The EC’s Antitrust Chief, Margrethe Vestager, is signaling that some Big Data may be anticompetitive. She recently told a conference: "These incredible powerful tools, like search engines and social media, are available for free. In many cases, that's because we as consumers have a new currency that we can use to pay for them – our data. …If a company's use of data is so bad for competition that it outweighs the benefits, we may have to step in to restore a level playing field."

The issue of whether privacy/data protection violations can be anti-competitive in Google’s case is now especially ripe.

Alphabet’s Amoral Attitude and Acts

Summary

Does Alphabet Inc. -- arguably the world’s largest organization, with two billion plus users, most all the world’s information, most of the world’s top applications, limitless global ambitions, limited accountability, and self-proclaimed “don’t be evil” moral authority -- actually “do the right thing” as Alphabet publicly professes?  (Alphabet Inc. is the restructured company formerly known as Google Inc.)

If it matters to people that their leaders do what they say, to governments that corporate leaders obey the law, to the media that public leaders are honest to the public, and to the public that the leaders they trust are trustworthy, then this attempt to bring accountability to Alphabet-Google’s near unprecedented leadership, branding, and investment value has merit.

Accumulating evidence of Google’s amoral unaccountability certainly has merit and value to EU law enforcement and to U.S. State Attorneys General law enforcement, because it goes to whether or not Alphabet can be trusted to operate its business honestly and legally on its own; and to be trusted to make honest representations to law enforcement and the public.   

Google’s Secret US Loon Test Implicates the FCC, FAA, EPA, State, & DOD/NSA

Are several arms of the U.S. Government giving Google special treatment to enable it to secretly conduct a nationwide, two-year, test of Project Loon -- Google’s ambitious scheme to be the first company to commercialize the stratosphere -- in a manner that risks public safety, and environmental, and other harms?

Google’s “Going Dark” Encryption Leadership Threatens Sovereign Security

Google is unique in its leadership, plans, and global marketpower to accelerate the majority of all global Web traffic “going dark,” i.e. encrypted by default. Google’s “going dark” leadership seriously threatens  to neuter sovereign nations’ law-enforcement and intelligence capabilities to investigate and prevent terrorism and crime going forward.

Google is not the only U.S. Internet company endangering the national security of many countries by “going dark” via end-to-end corporate encryption in an environment of exceptional terrorist risk -- Apple has been self-servingly irresponsible as well.

Nevertheless, Google warrants the spotlight and primary focus here on “going dark” for three big reasons.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths