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Antitrust

Ad Hoc Neutrality Isn’t Neutral, It Is Discriminatory and Unfair

 

For a neutrality or non-discrimination principle to have legitimacy, it must be applied neutrally and non-discriminatorily itself, because everyone knows true neutrality means not taking sides.

Non-neutral application of a net neutrality policy takes sides and thus is discriminatory and unfair, the exact opposite of net neutrality’s purported purpose and the definition of its signature word.

Arguably, most all the controversies and conflicts over net neutrality for the last fifteen years have resulted from a supposed neutrality principle applied non-neutrally, to favor Internet intermediary distribution networks like Google, Amazon and Facebook, and cloud computing networks, like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, over legacy communications and content networks.

Today the FCC, in voting 3-2 for the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, is legitimately implementing net neutrality in a neutral fashion, i.e. treating similar information services similarly with the same light touch, under the same market transparency enforcement oversight at the FTC, and not taking sides by non-neutrally, picking winners and losers from the start.

America’s Antitrust Enforcement Credibility Crisis – White Paper

Below is the abstract of my new antitrust white paper, which can be accessed in full here.

I will present it at the Capitol Forum CQ 4th annual tech competition conference in New York City Wednesday on “Obstacles to Antitrust Enforcement.”

It is also a timely and relevant addition to the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing Wednesday in Washington D.C. on “The Consumer Welfare Standard in Antitrust: Outdated or a Harbor in a Sea of Doubt?” because it discusses how the Chicago School antitrust consumer welfare standard remains sound as is, but warns that its application to Internet intermediary platforms is being badly distorted by America’s Internet-first industrial policy and its longstanding Internet competition double standard.

Many will find the 27-page white paper with >150 cites, a very helpful, up-to-date, overview and fact set on the current badly troubled state of competition and antitrust in the marketplace today.

A White Paper

Net Neutrality’s Masters of Misdirection

On net neutrality, we have all been tricked by the masters of misdirection.

For many years Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the Internet Association have deftly misdirected the media’s and government’s attention away from their unaccountable market power, discriminatory models and practices, and real consumer protection problems, towards the potential for discrimination by legacy-regulated, competitive, broadband providers.

The masterful misdirection becomes painfully obvious when one looks at the facts.

First, it’s the supposedly “competitive” Internet “edge” that is hyper-dominant and hyper-concentrated, and it is America’s broadband industry that is the most competitive in the world.

State Attorneys General Can Expose Google’s Pervasive Anti-Consumer Practices -- My Daily Caller op-ed

 

Please don’t miss my latest Daily Caller op-ed, “State Attorneys General Can Expose Google’s Pervasive Anti-Consumer Practices.”

 

Implications of DOJ’s Potential Challenge of the AT&T Time Warner Merger

While I agree with the economic liberty, principled approach of limited government and a reduction in regulation that DOJ Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, explained in his remarks before the ABA’s Antitrust forum today, I also believe in the equally important economic liberty principles of equal protection under the law and due process. Both are important to fair and equal antitrust administration of Justice in a free market.

Since the DOJ apparently is telegraphing its intention to file suit to block the AT&T-Time-Warner merger, because it reportedly prefers structural remedies over behavioral remedies, I appreciate that for the DOJ to prevail in court, it must operate a fair merger review process, and prove its case on the merits in a court of law.  

In the specific case of the AT&T-Time-Warner merger, which was considered in 2016 and announced October 22, 2016, the companies evaluated the merger based on the known, long-standing, consistent, vertical-integration, legal precedents at that time and that today remain the operative legal antitrust precedents in court.

Google Amazon & Facebook are Standard Monopoly Distribution Networks

 

Washington increasingly is asking what are Google, Amazon, and Facebook?

That’s because they seem to be in the middle of many vexing problems spanning culture, politics, civility, economics, competition, jobs, investment, national security, public safety, consumer welfare, etc.

At core, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are unregulated, economy-wide, distribution networks, that de facto are taking control over core economic processes.

They are modern-day Standard Oils. Google is Standard Data. Amazon is Standard Commerce. Facebook is Standard Social.

Doubt it? Consider reality.

Standard Data: Alphabet-Google is the distribution network for over 4 billion search users, 2 billion Android devices, 15 million publisher partners, 5 million advertiser clients, and 400,000 Android developers. Google’s network has over 200 data-capturing products and services, 15 of the world’s fastest, highest-capacity data centers, and 2000 server points of presence in over 150 countries.

Google commands 19 of the top 25 Android apps downloaded over a billion times including: Search, Play, Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Google+, Text-to-Speech, Chrome, Play Books, Play Games, Play Music, Play Newsstand, Play Movies & TV, Drive, Photos, and StreetView.

Google’s Government Influence Nixed Competition for Winner-Take All Results

Facts are stubborn things.

Know what one finds when one puts the evidence of Google’s many antitrust, IP, and privacy offenses into one telling timeline of what Google did from 2008-2017?

One sees a tale of two terms. Commendably, the evidence shows the first Obama Administration term featured very tough antitrust, IP, and privacy law enforcement against Google. Sadly, the second term was the direct opposite – featuring virtually no antitrust, IP, or privacy law enforcement against Google.

Know what one finds when one overlays the telling timeline of improper influence of Google’s Government Guardians, i.e. senior Google executives and outside counsels placed in all the right places to protect and advance Google’s business -- with the timeline of Google’s antitrust, IP, and privacy law enforcement problems?

One can see predictable patterns. Shortly after Google Guardians show up, those Google’s government problems go away. Same administration, different personnel, near completely opposite outcomes. It’s a quintessential example of the old Washington adage that “personnel is policy.”

Asymmetric Absurdity in Communications Law & Regulation

You can’t make this stuff up.

Asymmetric Realities: The five most valuable companies – Apple $802b, Alphabet-Google $688b, Microsoft $585b, Facebook $500b, and Amazon $475b – are together worth an unprecedented $3 trillion and widely-appreciated to be dominant in the communications-driven businesses of smartphones, search advertising, subscription business productivity software, social advertising, and ecommerce platform services respectively.

In Washington’s theater of the absurd, these well-known, winner-take-all platforms, are playing the role of victims of potential harms, that supposedly can’t afford to shoulder the potential risks for the potential net neutrality problems that they allege are potentially serious, when they produce $131b annually in free cash flow and have $357b in cash (mostly overseas).

Online-Offline Asymmetric Regulation Is Winner-Take-All Government Policy

Online-offline asymmetric regulation is the biggest persistent competition problem in the economy for the next decade. 

Asymmetric commercial treatment by the Government predictably produces asymmetric market outcomes. Everyone knows how an unfair playing field or unfair rules of the game produce favored winners and disfavored losers.

Internet myth is that Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and their “intermedia” Internet Association brethren deserve to be winner-take-all because they are more innovative and better for consumers than offline companies.

The reality is that these companies common “winner-take-all special sauce” is old-fashioned regulatory arbitrage, of its special Section 230 intermediary immunity from liability, regulation, and accountability.

To date, the intermedia’s decade-long, bankrolling and public leadership of the Title II net neutrality regulation of broadband effort, has been a spectacularly effective diversion of public and government attention from the intermedia’s regulatory arbitrage of their winner-take-all, asymmetric regulation advantages.

Google Amazon & Facebook’s Section 230 Immunity Destructive Double Standard

Congress is learning a predictable lesson that blanket immunization of a technology from accountability to law enforcement, and normal societal responsibility to others, creates unjust and destructive outcomes from a double standard of justice.

Google, Amazon, Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb are also learning a predictable lesson that opposing the unopposable for self-serving business reasons spotlights their increasingly indefensible “Monopoly” “get-out-of-jail-free” card, Section 230 immunity, that’s available only in the U.S. for online platforms.

This lesson is happening because a bipartisan Senate bill -- the “Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act” (SESTA S.1693) -- proposes to amend Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to clarify that its immunization of online platforms from liability was never intended to shield knowing enablement of child sex trafficking from criminal prosecution.

Tuesday, a Senate Commerce Committee hearing will spotlight the gravity and depravity of how this well-intentioned, Internet-infancy, law to advance freedom of speech online, has caused unacceptable unintended consequences today for the most vulnerable among us.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths