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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.

There’s No Freedom of Speech to Enable Sex Trafficking of Children

With freedom comes responsibility.

A Tuesday Senate hearing on the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act, SESTA, S.1693, will spotlight the strong objections of intermedia platforms like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb, which oppose it as a slippery slope towards being subjected to the same public accountability standards as offline companies. 

SESTA is a bipartisan bill that seeks to narrowly amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, to clarify that Section 230’s immunity from intermediary liability was never meant to immunize sex trafficking as a form of protected freedom of speech. 

The problem SESTA targets is best explained by a 2017 report by Consumer Watchdog and the Faith and Freedom Coalition, that spotlights how child sex trafficking effectively is enabled and legally protected in America via Section 230 immunity.  

The report documents how “for years, one company – Backpage.com – has dominated online trafficking in minors for sex;” and how Backpage is suspected to be involved in “73% of all suspected sex trafficking reports in the U.S.”

The 48-page report also chronicles in detail how Alphabet-Google has long bankrolled and organized much of Backpage’s legal support that has enabled Backpage to evade justice for several years by exploiting Section 230’s sweeping immunities from online intermediary liability. 

Trust in Google was built in part on the promise in its uniquely unequivocal “don’t be evil” corporate motto. 

If Google doesn’t consider purposeful enablement of child sex trafficking evil, what does it consider evil?

The Power of Facebook, Google & Amazon Is an Issue for Left & Right; Op-Ed

Please don’t miss my Buzzfeed Op-Ed on: “The Power of Facebook, Google & Amazon Is an Issue for Left & Right” -- because it would hold abuses of unaccountable power accountable.

Be sure to see the surprising effect that Google, Amazon, and Facebook, i.e. the “intermedia,” have had on U.S. economic growth 2012-2016!

 

 

 

How the Internet Cartel Won the Internet and The Internet Competition Myth

Summary: The substantial evidence catalogued here provides proof of the Internet’s cartelization, extreme concentration, winner-take-all tendencies, and mythical competition. The public data shows that the tacit Internet cartel of Google, Amazon and Facebook is 7-8 times more concentrated than the top three offline companies and that the top ten Internet economy companies are >10 times more concentrated than the top ten offline economy companies.

Public data that Google, Amazon, and Facebook have acquired ~350 potential competitors and the Internet Association overall has acquired ~900 potential competitors, indicates that the apparent cartelization of Internet companies’ investment, acquisition, and innovation processes ensure no innovative “garage startup” has a plausible competitive opportunity to seriously threaten the Internet cartel’s dominance.

Public data also ironically shows that almost all the Internet Association’s members are anti-competitively threatened by one of more of the Google, Amazon, or Facebook, winner-take-all online onslaughts.

U.S. antitrust authorities have enabled a cartelized and extremely concentrated Internet by taking their eye off the purpose of antitrust law -- protecting the process of competition, by first protecting the process of innovation by dominant online platforms.

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Google-Facebook Ad Cartel’s Collusion Crushing Competition Comprehensively

 

Why are none of Google’s many paid experts not publicly defending Google and Facebook’s 2014 decisions to stop competing against each other in search and social? And why are they not trumpeting the pro-consumer, pro-innovation, and increased efficiency benefits of accelerating their digital advertising dominance since those decisions?

The silence is telling, and maybe even suspicious, given the DOJ cartel enforcement “what to look for”  primer.

Why Amazon and Google Are Two Peas from the Same Monopolist Pod

Summary: Amazon’s monopolization ambitions, strategies, and tying tactics are eerily like Google’s.  Both these companies likely have not earned their respective dominances purely on merit, but also via illegal anti-competitive behaviors.

At a minimum, Amazon’s proposed acquisition of WholeFoods warrants an FTC “second request” for information, i.e. a fuller antitrust investigation of whether the acquisition could “substantially lessen competition” in any implicated relevant markets.

How the Google-Facebook Ad Cartel Harms Advertisers, Publishers & Consumers

How much smoke and fire must there be, and how many people must get burned, before the fire department will investigate and put out a forest fire?

Apparently, a lot, if the forest fire is in the digital ad market that Google and Facebook dominate, and U.S. antitrust authorities are the firefighters.

Where’s the fire here?

Google and Facebook, which don’t directly compete in search and social, together dominate over 70% of the digital advertising market. They also dominate about 80% of online referral traffic, the online oxygen upon which every Internet publisher depends for survival.

After fiercely competing directly with each other in search and social in 2013 and 2014, Google and Facebook abruptly and quietly stopped competing against each other in 2014 with no explanation.

Since then, Google and Facebook have accelerated their capture of almost all digital ad revenue growth and profitability, exposing that Google and Facebook have become a de facto cartel that has illegally divided up the digital advertising space.

In 2014, Google and Facebook apparently decided they could each optimize their growth and profitability by colluding as dominant market complements to each other, rather than competing head-to-head as less efficient search-social competitors.

The economic motivation behind Google and Facebook’s apparent illegal market division is this.

The Trump DOJ “Slam Dunk” Antitrust Case Against Alphabet-Google

What’s quintessential illegal monopoly behavior?

A dominant company that is proactively, consistently, and purposefully focused on eliminating most of its business competition, not just competing on the merits, but also via illegal collusion, predation, anti-competitive acquisition, and obstruction of justice.

That quintessential illegal monopoly behavior belongs to Alphabet-Google 2007-2017.

The public evidences of Google’s patterns of collusion, predation, anti-competitive acquisition, and obstruction of law enforcement are substantial and hiding in plain sight.

They are just waiting for DOJ antitrust leadership, investigators and prosecutors to connect the dots in an up-to-date theory of the case, after organizing and synthesizing the substantial investigative evidence that already resides in the DOJ’s and FTC’s antitrust files, because of ten different U.S. Google antitrust-related investigations of Google by either the DOJ or FTC from 2007-2013.

In addition, some law enforcement conclusions and actions involving Google from 2007-2013 have been proved either wrong or ineffective with the benefit of hindsight, that now need to be addressed.

Why US Antitrust Non-Enforcement Produces Online Winner-Take-All Platforms

If one considers the evidence, it is evident that U.S. antitrust enforcers have enabled the current “new normal” of online winner-take-all platforms: Alphabet-Google in e-information, Amazon in e-commerce, Facebook in e-social, Uber in e-transportation services, Airbnb in e-accommodation services, and a “unicorn” queue of online winner-take-all platform wannabes.

Summary of Conclusions

U.S. antitrust officials should be alarmed by the extreme early concentration of a relatively young twenty-year old, U.S. online company marketplace.

Five online winner-take-all platforms -- Google, Amazon, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb -- already command ~80% of U.S. online companies’ revenue share and market capitalization.

And they are collectively capturing 82% of U.S. online companies’ revenue growth share, meaning they are growing more dominant not less.

Why Amazon Buying WholeFoods Will Attract Serious Antitrust Scrutiny

In proposing to buy WholeFoods for $14b, Amazon has surprisingly invited unwelcome serious antitrust investigation into, and public discussion about, Amazon’s core conflicted retail/MarketPlace business model and the many alleged predatory, discriminatory, and unfair standard Amazon business practices, that Amazon commits, not only in the grocery business segment, but in all other retail segments.

In statingthe parties expect to close the transaction in the second half of 2017,” that means Amazon expects no serious antitrust investigation of whether the transaction “substantially lessens competition,” and thus no “second request” from antitrust authorities requesting more information and questions to answer.

If a “second request” comes, which is likely, there is no way the companies can continue to “expect” the deal will be approved in 2017. That’s because such an investigative process effectively does not have any deadline for the reviewing authority, DOJ or the FTC, to either: approve, approved with conditions, or challenge the deal.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths