Note to Google: Those in glass houses should not throw stones

Google, in making a high-profile complaint to the Justice Department and State Attorney Generals, about Microsoft's latest operating system Vista, appears to be naively unaware of its own antitrust vulnerabilities in its pending Google-DoubleClick antitrust review at the FTC.

It has always been unwise for those in "glass houses to throw stones."

Why Privacy is a competitive issue in FTC's Google-DoubleClick merger review

Just after Google's CEO Eric Schmidt summarily dismissed privacy concerns as an issue in the FTC's review of the Google-DoubleClick merger, a privacy watchdog group said "Google inc.'s privacy practices are the worst among the Internet's top destinations," according to an AP article "Watchdog group slams Google on privacy." 

  • "...London-based Privacy International assigned Google its lowest possible grade. The category is reserved for companies with "comprehensive consumer surveilance and entrenched hostility to privacy."

American privacy groups are petitioning the FTC (EPIC, CDD, and US PIRG) to address the privacy issue in the context of the Google-DoubleClick merger.

  • Privacy groups in the US and in Europe are rallying around this issue, because as the NY State Consumer Protection Board has said: "Google's database...will make up the world's single largest repository of both personally and non-personally identifiable information."
  • Investors and others that dismiss privacy as a competitive concern in the Google-DoubleClick merger -- do so at their own peril.

Why is privacy a competitive issue in the Google-DoubleClick merger?

FCC Commissioner McDowell debunks OECD broadband rankings

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell gave an outstanding speech today at the Broadband Policy Summit in which he did the single best job I have seen totally debunking the OECD rankings that purportedly indicate the US is falling behind on broadband.

Commissioner McDowell explains with example after example -- how skewed the OECD methodology is.

  • My personal favorite line in the speech was on how the OECD methodology is skewed against the US:
    • "...even if every existing broadband subscriber in America had a fiber-fed 100 mbps broadband connection, we would only rank 12th."

No shadowy spectrum earmarks for Dotcom Billionaires!

Like the discredited and shameful congressional practice of fleecing the American taxpayer with "earmarking" public funds for special interests, Frontline-Google and eBay-Skype are asking for the equivalent of special interest commercial "earmarks" from the FCC.

It is outrageous that the FCC is actually entertaining these proposed special interest scams against the American taxpayer. 

  • The FCC should keep the auction free of the corrupting influence of spectrum or policy "earmarks" for the obvious benefit of only one company lobbying the process for permission to pick the American taxpayers' pocket.

What am I talking about specifically? Two special interest spectrum/policy "earmarks" are getting a lot of press attention lately.

Markey-like Net Neutrality bill fizzles out in Maine Senate

Yet another state legislature has rejected passing a law mandating net neutrality -- this time in Maine, the home state of Senator Olympia Snowe, one of net neutrality's primary sponsors and highest profile proponents in the US Senate.

  • are now 0-3 in their hand-picked states where they thought they had the best chance of passing a version of the Senate Snowe-Dorgan bill or the House Markey bill from last year -- and where they focused their efforts.  
  • Previously, failed to pass net neutrality legislation in Michigan, and Maryland.

To let the net neutrality proponents save face, the Maine Senate passed a resolution, not legislation, that asks for a study on net neutrality to be completed next year.

  • This is the same outcome as has occurred at the Federal level as both the FTC and FCC are studying net neutrality and seeking comments.
    • Both the FTC and the FCC have said that they do not see a current problem in the marketplace concerning the alleged problem of net discrimination.
  • Moreover, the Maine resolution also recognizes that net neutrality is a federal issue and that Maine does not have jurisdiction over the net neutrality issue.

I fully expect that and SaveTheInterent will continue to waste valuable state legislative time and resources on a problem they cannot even define or prove exists.  

  • They don't seem to "get" or care that the Internet is Federal jurisdiction and Federal policymakers at every official level have rejected calls for net neutrality legislation.

On what basis does Google dismiss privacy in DoubleClick merger?

An  Associated Press article, "Google Chairman dismisses privacy issue" could turn out to be like waving a red cape in front of a bull.

  • Relevant parts of the AP story:
    •   "Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said Wednesday that U.S. regulatory approval of his company's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick will not be hindered by concerns over privacy."
    • "Schmidt said that Google, when considering the acquisition, "looked very carefully" at privacy and other issues that would come under legal review "because we knew competitors would raise those issues, as indeed they have."

Google buys "Feedburner" blog ad network, as it further Googleopolizes the Internet

For anyone watching Google closely, they are cleverly locking up all the leading segments of the Internet which control the monetization access points to Internet content.

  • Per MediaWeek, June 1st Google bought Feedburner, the largest feed and blog advertising network, which also happens to have the best quality and quantity of major content providers who subscribe to blog feeds.
    • It's a shrewd and brilliant move, if the antitrust authorities allow it.
  • This comes on the heels of its April proposed merger with DoubleClick, the largest adserving company on the Internet, which is estimated to serve 80-85% of Internet users with display ads per EPIC.
  • That came on the heels of the closing of Google's YouTube acquisition, which makes Google the owner of the largest user-created video content network and one of the most popular destinations on the web.

Anyone else see a pattern here?

Is Google peeping on you? Google's cavalier attitude towards privacy

The New York Times article today by Miguel Helft, "Google photos stir a debate over privacy"  provides a great public service in highlighting yet another example of Google's cavalier approach to guarding peoples' privacy.

  • This section of the NYT article captures the creepiness of Google's new "Street View "photo service" and what it says about Google's storied culture of "innovation without permission" (or supervision):
    • “The issue that I have ultimately is about where you draw the line between taking public photos and zooming in on people’s lives,â€? Ms. Kalin-Casey said in an interview Thursday on the front steps of the building. “The next step might be seeing books on my shelf. If the government was doing this, people would be outraged.â€?

FCC can't afford yet another Reed Hundt wild goose chase

Reed Hundt is up to his old "managed-competition" tricks again. 

  • The former Clinton-Gore FCC Chairman is now Vice Chairman of Frontline Wireless, which wants the FCC to auction spectrum to them requiring net neutrality/open access -- so effectively no company will be able/or want to pay much for the 700 MHz spectrum -- and so Frontline Wireless could capture this most valuable spectrum available at the market-managed price of -- pennies on the dollar. 
    • It is highly relevant that Frontline is financially backed by big Google investor/Board members; their involvement was probably orchestrated by Google Senior advisor Al Gore, Hundt's political benefactor in the Clinton-Gore Administration.  
      • A big part of Google's strategy for value creation and 90% gross margins is to take intellectual property without permission or compensation and to secure use of bandwidth and spectum below market cost. 
  • True to form in this new venture, Mr. Hundt has never met a marketplace that he didn't think he could personally "manage" better than the free market can.

The FCC should be very very careful in following this policy charmer's latest government intervention advice on the 700 MHz auction, because he has been personally responsible for most all of the largest wild goose chases that the FCC has been involved in over the last few decades.

Edwards backs Google's Big Government spectrum subsidy plan

Bloomberg reports that Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards "backs Google's push for wholesale leasing of airwaves."

Let's cut to the chase here.

Google has proposed a self-serving idea for real-time auctions of spectrum that might be able work in five to ten years time, but is not at all relevant to, or practical for, the auction scheduled for next winter.

  • Google's idea is really a clever diversion and stalking horse for wireless net neutrality -- a sweet-sounding name for government-subsidized free spectrum or "corporate welfare for dotcom billionaires."  
  • More importantly, Google's proposal would effectively undermine the FCC's ability to raise the maximum amount in the upcoming 700 MHz auction for American taxpayers.
    • Presidential candidate Edwards appears more interested in pandering to powerful Democratic special interests and fundraisers that can contribute to his lagging campaign, than being a good steward of taxpayer money.  
    • And who might those special interests be that Mr. Edwards is pandering to?
      • Google, whose employees in the last election cycle contributed 98% to Democratic candidates;
      • Al Gore, Google's senior Advisor, (who is now seriously rich, but quietly so, from his Google options) and who is ringleader of "Google's Poodles" Google's very own astroturf group the "Open Internet Coalition."  and
      • Former Clinton-Gore FCC Chairman, Reed Hundt, Chairman of Frontline spectrum company, funded in part by Google-related money, which is seeking to rig the upcoming FCC spectrum auction for their own commercial benefit under the guise of an "open Internet."

Don't be fooled by the clever diversions surrounding the FCC's upcoming 700 MHz auction.


Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths