Former UK official eviscerates NN as "extreme" and "impractical"

An article in the Register on the first significant NN debate in the UK is a wonderful read.

It is always helpful to get the reaction of an outside perspective to cut to the quick of an issue.

  • Alun Michael, the former UK trade minister "described the clamour for preemptive technical legislation as "extreme... unattractive and impractical"
    • "It was, he said "an answer to problems we don't have, using a philosophy we don't share.""
  • The current top UK regulator over the net neutrality issue Douglas Scott "concluded by saying neutrality wasn't an issue, so long as customers could migrate to an alternative provider quickly and easily."  

I reccommend reading the whole article.

FCC affirming no NN for wireless broadband cements dereg precedents

The most important development for a free market Internet in the last several weeks was the FCC's  5-0 decision March 22nd to declare wireless broadband an unregulated information service.

  • In laymans terms, the FCC officially and unanimously declared that net neutrality is NOT required for wireless broadband going forward. 

Why is this a big deal?

  • The FCC legally cemented the policy precedent of regulatory parity -- for broadband de-regulation.
    • The FCC applied the Supreme Court's seminal "Brand X" de-regulatory ruling that declared cable modems an unregulated info service (2002) -- to all other mainstream broadband facilities, DSL (2005), BPL (2006) and now wireless broadband (2007).      
    • The legal facts of the FCC reiterating the same policy and technology parity logic repeatedly over several years creates a powerful phalanx of deregulatory legal precedent that future regulators will be hard-pressed to reverse piecemeal.
  • If a future FCC Chairman, say a Commissioner Copps in a potential Democratic Administration, wanted to apply Carterfone-like regulations to only wireless, that FCC ruling would likely be ruled in court to be arbitrary and capricious because it singled out wireless and treated that broadband technology much differently than other analogous broadband technologies: cable modem, DSL and BPL.
    • To be fair and legal, the FCC would have to apply new regulations in a technologically-neutral way.
  • What the FCC decided is that wireless is NOT different in a policy or legal sense.
    • This makes it much harder to legally and politically justify any eBay-Skype petition for Carterfone rules for wireless.
    • The savy observer will appreciate that this FCC ruling effectively moots the eBay-Skype petition to apply Carterfone rules to wireless.
      • I fully expect people will continue to talk about wireless Carterfone rules.
      • However, when they have to talk about it in the context of the FCC's Notice of Inquiry into NN, they will find it extremely difficult to justify that wireless is different and requires special rules.

Well done FCC!  Great de-regulatory box out!

On hiatus for spring break

On hiatus for spring break.

Abusing American's privacy: part of Google's competitive advantage?

Google made news recently by adopting new privacy measures, which puts a spotlight on a real big public policy disconnect.

What I find most interesting about Google and the subject of privacy, is the glaring incongruity of these facts:

  1. Google, as the dominant search engine with ~50% of the market, arguably has more and deeper private and intimate information on American consumers than any other company in America;
  2. Google has among the weakest privacy policies of any major corporation in America;
  3. Google is not subject to any specific privacy regulations or regulator like other similarly situated major corporations that have lots of sensitive consumer information -- like financial services firms and communications companies.

Let me put that more simply:

The U.S. is way ahead of Europe on broadband!

Only 40% of European Union homes have Internet access and only 16% have broadband, according to EC Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva who spoke yesterday at the Digital World Conference in Berlin.

  • Those lagging numbers are in stark contrast to America's performance where 70+% of American homes have Internet access and 45+% have broadband according to FCC data.

NN proponents have tried to manufacture that there is a broadband crisis in the U.S. and that we are falling behind the rest of the world. It just isn't true.

  • That's why I wrote the commentary "America's Unique Internet success" in the Washington Times a couple of weeks ago, in order to debunk this fabrication designed to create a reason for the Government to intervene in the broadband marketplace.
  • America has a great broadband policy and strategy -- its called competition and deregulation!
    • And it works!
      • The Internet is the single greatest deregulation success of all time.
      • And the U.S. has substantially more facilities-based broadband competition than any other nation in the world.

"Google will sway 2008 Elections" -- Google's Clueless arrogance

Google has no sense of when to keep their mouth shut, because their corporate arrogance and cluelessness appears boundless. 

I could only shake my head at the headline in Comm Daily today prompted by a Google official speaking at a Washington conference.

    • "Google sees itself as a force in a political race that could hinge on making the best of Web and other tools, Google Vp-Global Communications Elliot Schrage said Thurs. at the Politics Online conference in Washington."
    • "Candidates are starting to see the Web's power, Schrage said: "Already candidates and campaigns are spending tens of thousands on adwords campaigns alone." The company invited declared Presidential candidates to its offices to "talk technology and policy" and will post videos of the talks if candidates permit it, he said. Google is trying to "make services easier to use" through a "special sales and political team dedicated to helping political camps, he said."" 

Generally company's are more responsible and circumspect about bragging about their own company's ability to influence or "sway" and election. The U.S. Government takes Federal Election laws seriously and is attuned to ensuring the electoral process is not manipulated in any way.

Europeans see NN as away to undermine U.S. Competitiveness

Net neutrality is not only a domestic issue but also a policy weapon some Eurocrats see as a way to undermine American competitiveness to Europe's advantage.

  • Make no mistake, NN has a powerful competitiveness, trade and foreign policy dimension.
    • Keeping the Internet free of regulation and promoting competition and the deployment of new technologies are critical to maintaining America's competitiveness.
  • Other nations are begining to see the NN concept as a clever way to slow down U.S. innovation and "level the playing field" through regulation to improve their competitive position relative to the U.S.
    • Some of the more socialist-minded nations like France are beginning to see that they can advance relatively, if they can slow U.S. innnovation down -- with "competition" restrictions that favor the EC and relatively disadvantage the U.S.

Why I wrote my commentary, "America's Unique Internet success" in the Washington Times a couple of weeks ago," was to drive home this important insight that America truly is unique when it comes to the Internet

More disarray in the ItsOurnet coalition?

I read with interest and amusement Drew Clark's piece on GigaOM about "Is Google changing its position on Net neutrality?".

  • My key point is what is Google's official position on Dorgan-Snowe, the highest profile Net neutrality bill which is co-sponsored by Democratic Presidential Candidates: Senators Clinton and Obama?
    • That is what matters. The rest is just backchatter, interesting though it is.

Drew Clark's piece in GigaOM is one of the better reports I've seen outlining the increasing disarray of the ItsOurNet coalition, the front group for online giants promoting net neutrality legislation.

Kudos to Cisco's Pepper on excellent NN editorial in TechNewsWorld

Dr. Bob Pepper of Cisco, and formerly a top policy advisor to several FCC Chairman, wrote an excellent opinion piece in TechNewsWorld: "Network Neutrality: Avoiding a Net Loss". 

  • Why it is a good read is the clarity of thought about how market forces, not regulation, has been the key to empowering consumers and creating freedom of choice.

Viacom Sues Google for "clearly illegal" business model -- its a growing pattern

The WSJ is reporting that Viacom has sued Google for $1b in damages for stealing its copyrighted content.

  • "YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others' creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google," Viacom said in a press release. "Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws."

Pages

Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths