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Google-Facebook-Apple’s Law-Evasive Encryption Risks

In the coming months, Google, and to a lesser extent, Facebook and Apple are on a collision course with American and foreign law enforcement over their pervasive, law-evasive, encryption of Internet traffic by default, which increasingly means law enforcement with a legitimate court-ordered-warrant, cannot search a Google, Facebook, or Apple users’ communications to investigate, prevent and prosecute terrorism or felony crime.

All three, to different degrees, are seeking to regain user trust lost by Snowden’s exposure of ubiquitous NSA spying, by deceptively trumpeting their encryption of traffic as a panacea for privacy vulnerabilities.

[Please don’t miss the summary below of that encapsulates how more pervasive, law-evasive, encryption is not a privacy/security panacea but a grave threat to both public safety and the global free and open Internet we know today.]     

FCC’s New Do Not Track List Authority

Will the FCC create an Internet “Do Not Track” list like the FTC created the “Do Not Call” list enjoyed by three quarters of Americans?

In ruling the Internet to be subject to common carrier consumer protection law, the Obama FCC’s recently passed Open Internet Order applied common carrier privacy law (Section 222) to Internet telecommunications as part of the FCC’s unilateral efforts to modernize communications law for the 21st century.

The Obama FCC’s Open Internet Order also ruled that the Internet now encompasses the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and that an IP address is the functional equivalent of a telephone number.

Thus, logically it could follow that information that’s considered legally private in the telephone world now could be considered legally private in the Internet world.   

This central consumer protection question should come up this week as the FCC hosts a Section 222 public workshop to explore the FCC’s “role in protecting the privacy of consumers who use” the Internet.

What is Section 222?

It is a common carrier provision of the Communications Act entitled “Privacy of Customer Information.”

ObamaNet vs EuroNet -- “Competing” Protectionist Industrial Policies

The US-EU “competition” of protectionist digital industrial policies -- U.S. Title II net neutrality vs. the EU’s emerging “platform neutrality” plans -- creates an ironic backdrop to negotiations for the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) “free” trade agreement. Heightening the irony, the Obama Administration, not the European Commission, has been the protectionist digital industrial policy leader, trailblazing the political path for the EU’s Single Digital Market to follow.  

At least on the digital markets front, TTIP will be much less a commercial “free” trade negotiation and much more a political “fair” trade negotiation.    

The U.S. has long set the tone and trajectory for this digital “fair” trade dynamic in championing net neutrality to protect its Silicon Valley national champions, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, etc., and by skewing antitrust enforcement to benefit Google and Silicon Valley.

Nationalistic Net Neutrality Naiveté

The New York Times’ editorial, “Global Threats to Net Neutrality,” scolds the world for not following the FCC’s nationalistic concept of net neutrality.

They feign shock and indignation that Europe and India would dare think of politically doing what the FCC has done and impose their own national industrial policies -- under the convenient political cover of “net neutrality.”

America’s elites naively imagine that other countries’ authorities don’t “get the joke” of the FCC’s politically-contrived net neutrality policy.

Other countries’ authorities are not as gullible and pliant as American elites imagine them to be.  

They know “net neutrality” has become an increasingly vacuous political slogan, whose definition conveniently changes meaning like a chameleon changes colors.

They know the FCC is pressuring them to do as the FCC says and not as the FCC does on net neutrality.

America’s Title II Protectionism Will Hurt Google & Silicon Valley in EU

Last November, President Obama effectively abandoned America’s longstanding free trade Internet policy established by President Clinton, in favor of a protectionist Internet industrial policy to benefit America’s national champions, Silicon Valley, under the guise of “net neutrality” policy.

Flipping U.S. Internet policy from global digital free trade to maximal national Internet regulation could end up hurting Silicon Valley the most, because they most benefit from, and depend on, the current free flow of information globally on the Internet.

Ironically, America also is forfeiting the digital free trade policy high ground by leading the world toward a “Splinternet” vision of more nationalistic maximal utility regulation of the Internet and its content.

In particular, it will be much harder for the U.S. to credibly object that the EU’s: creation of a European Digital Single Market (DSM), tightening of the EU-U.S. Data Protection Safe Harbor, and its aggressive enforcement of EU antitrust, privacy, and tax laws against Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, is protectionist, when America’s new FCC utility regulation of the Internet is a transparently protectionist American industrial policy to advantage America’s national champions in Silicon Valley. 

Net Neutrality’s about Consumer Welfare not Corporate Welfare for Netflix

Billionaire Netflix CEO Reed Hastings objects to Netflix having to pay anything at all for Netflix’ gorging on 30% of the Internet’s North American bandwidth. In a Netflix corporate blogpost billionaire Reed Hastings rails against the perceived injustice of Netflix paying Internet usage-based pricing like consumers do.

At core, Mr. Hastings now derides traditional consumer-defined net neutrality, which ensures consumers the freedom to access the legal content of their choice – as “weak” net neutrality.

Meanwhile, he is attempting to rebrand his new self-serving, corporate-defined net neutrality, which ensures the largest corporate users of the Internet pay nothing for their largest usage of interconnection bandwidth -- as “strong” net neutrality.

Mr. Hastings’ position clearly prioritizes corporate welfare above consumer welfare.

The De-Americanization of the Internet – My Daily Caller Op-ed

Please don’t miss my latest Daily Caller op-ed: “The De-Americanization of the Internet” -- here.  

America's dominance of the Internet has peaked. Read why and what it means. 

  • It is Part 3 of my “World Changing Internet” research series.

World Changing Internet Series

Part 1: Seven Ways the World is Changing the Internet

Part 2: Twitter’s Realpolitik & the Sovereign-ization of the Internet

 

Google-YouTube’s Internet Video Distribution Dominance -- Part XII of Googleopoly Research Series

Please click here for Google-YouTube's Internet Video Distribution Dominance -- Part XII of my seven-year, Googleopoly research series. 

  • This is must read for anyone interested in: Google antitrust; Google's liability for willful blindness to piracy and copyright infringement, and the legal implications of Google trying to solve its access-to-quality-video content-problem by acquisition of Dish, DirecTV or a major studio/TV network.

 

Google-YouTube’s Internet Video Distribution Dominance -- Part XII of Googleopoly Research Series

  • Why Internet video distribution competition is substantially lessened;
  • How Google-YouTube anti-competitively gained Internet video distribution dominance; &

Cellphone Unlocking Legal But Cellphone Lockpicking Illegal – Keeping Copyright Neuterers Honest

Rhetoric aside, the Administration drew an underappreciated and principled line in defending property rights in its deft partial support of the Free Culture petition to the White House to “make unlocking cellphones legal.”

For those paying attention to the whole Administration statement, the Administration included a critical caveat protecting property and contractual rights: i.e. one should be able to legally unlock a cellphone “if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation.”

Will Google Become SoftBank-Sprint's Silent Partner?

Like most analysts, I am not persuaded by the stated rationale and synergies SoftBank has put forth to justify its acquisition of Sprint. At bottom the deal is financial engineering: balance sheet and exchange rate arbitrage; and market timing. It appears to be a financial partnership, not the stated strategic partnership.

SoftBank hopes its shareholders will imagine that the 2013 and beyond U.S. experience of a maturing wireless smart-phone market and Sprint's late-iPhone-entrant role will somehow be analogous to SoftBank's iPhone first-mover experience in 2008 Japan. That's like asserting rock-climbing uphill is analogous with sliding downhill because they both involve hills.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths