Google's self-serving "innovation without permission"

Something that Alan Davidson, head of Google's Washington office, said at our NVTC net neutrality debate yesterday has been troubling me. He said Google believed in "innovation without permission."

While "innovation without permission" may be a useful mantra in encouraging Google folks from not getting bureaucratic and to "think outside the box" -- it's very troubling because it seems it is their public policy too.

I guess it means Google doesn't need any property owners' permission to innovate.

  • That must be why the publishers are suing them over digitizing their books without permission.
  • That must be why the newspapers are suing them for using their headlines and photos without permission.
  • That must be why trademark owners are suing them for using their trademarks for commercial purposes without permission. 

What a buzz kill to have to ASK for permission to innovate. Doesn't everyone understand that Google is just "liberating" that property for the common good and just earning a little commission along the way for their altruism? What's the harm in that? They are not "doing evil" are they?

Net neutrality is an online fundraising ploy masequerading as public policy

I launched the debate this morning at the NVTC forum on Net Neutrality with the following comment: "Net neutrality is an online fundraising ploy masequerading as public policy." It certainly focused the debate on the real reason why this issue has become so big so quickly. I pointed out that on substance it was a bogus issue. No substantiated problem or consumer harm and that all the substantive assertions made by net neutrality proponents have proven false. When the substance was so weak and the threat only theoretical, there had to be more going on.

I focused on the dirty little secret that partially-motivated many net neutrality proponents --which is how super-productive it is for groups that want to raise money online to scare people that there are boogymen that want to take the Internet away from them. Net neutrality has clearly become one of the most efficient ways to "shake the money tree."  

Alfred Kahn "A liberal Democrat's Caution on Net Neutrality"

Attached is a link to Alfred Kahn's (of Airline deregulation fame) views on Net neutrality. Thanks to PFF for posting this gem.

It's a very relevant read because Mr. Kahn considers himself: "a good liberal Democrat." He is also one of the most respected figures on the subject of regulation and de-regulation regardless of party or political persuasion.

Here are a couple of good quotes:

  • "competition is a far better protector of the interest of both consumers and content providers (think radio, television, motion pictures and the Internet) than government ownership or regulation"
  • "Why all the hysteria?" over net neutrality.

If Noam's right that the future of Internet is telecom-like regulation -- everyone should be very afraid

Read Eli Noam's recent FT editorial "TV regulation will become telecom regulation", becuase if he is right (and I don't think he is) you should be afraid for the future, very afraid.

I have always respected Professor Noam of the Columbia Business School even if I often don't agree with him. He is a rare person who sees this complex space as a whole and has clarity of thought. 

His basic point is that TV regulation will become to resemble telecom regulation more are and more. He concludes that "the present debate over net neutrality is a harbinger of more to come."  Â 

Net neutrality's "moving goalpost" on competition

I wanted to make sure folks did not miss a classic comment by a leading net neutrality proponent last week which shows their stubburn refusal to acknowledge the reality and "proof" of competition.

In Communications Daily last week in the lead article on the AT&T-Bell South merger was the following quote:

  • "Public Knowledge Pres. Gigi Sohn, another coalition member, said  AT&T should abide by conditions longer than proposed. Conditions should last until competition can be proven, which probably would be for "a very long time,' she said." [bold added for emphasis]

Until competition can be proven? Hello? Gigi you are obviously ignoring all the existing proof and playing the Washington game of "moving the goalposts." 

Search Peeping: Does Google value protecting American's privacy?

Robert Scoble of Naked Coversations fame (great book Robert! Thank you.) posted a very interesting 7 minute video of Google's Lobby on his widely read Scobleizer Blog:

  • "Here’s a silent video (I was shooting some “B Rollâ€? at Google the other day and thought it would make a fascinating video for you to watch). What is it? It’s the lobby of building 41 over at Google’s headquarters. It’s a little more than seven minutes long. What does it show? The cool screens where you can sit and watch random searches that are being done on Google right then."

After initial fascination like Scoble with reading real random searches as they were occurring, upon reflection I found it very troubling. Why its interesting is exactly why its troubling. It's interesting because none of us in the public domain ever get to see what anyone else is searching for at a specific point in time, because that is potentially very personal/private search information -- which I thought until now -- was supposed to be guarded as private information by Google. 

What's troubling is that if Google handles American's private information so cavalierly as to use it for perfomance art in public, what other private information are treating cavalierly that we don't know about? 

Is anyone else troubled that Google doesn't see anything wrong with "search peeping" or a public "search peep show?" What do privacy advocates think?

 

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Is Microsoft no longer a member of ItsOurNet? Trouble in paradise?

What's going on at ItsOurNet? 

On the ItsOurNet.org website under "The coalition" section, Microsoft is no longer on the list of: "These organizations support legislation to achieve net neutrality:"

Google, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo are still listed, what happened to Microsoft which was one of the five big companies bankrolling the effort?

  • Why no press release or blog about this interesting development? Cat got their tongue?

Could the organization be getting a little too radical, regulatory, government intrusive, or anti-market-forces for their taste?

AT&T merger: Subverting the will of Congress on net Neutrality is not the "public interest"

Net neutrality proponents love to wax eloquently about respecting the "principles of democracy and freedom' -- for others that is -- but not themselves, becuase that would interfere with accomplishing their agenda. Apparently, for many net neutrality proponents, the "ends justify the means." Â Ã‚ 

The Itsournet coalition is effectively "mugging" the AT&T-Bell South merger over net neutrality. They are pressuring the Democratic Commissioners to hold up the merger which has already been approved by the DOJ and all the states, over a "fifth net neutrality principle."

Brilliant post by Nick Carr on Lessig's "digital communalism" -- sounds like a Socialized Internet

 

Please read Nick Carr's brilliant post on Lessig's "Web 2.0lier than thou". It gets to the heart of what Stanford Professor Lawrence Lessig, one of the leading net neutrality functionaries, is really all about: "digital communalism." I couldn't agree more with Nick on this point! I have long called net neutrality a "Socialized Interent" so I think the term digital communalism is right on point. Lessig clearly trusts the state more than he trusts people.

Here's a great snippet from Nick's post that capture's the problem with Lessig's worldview:

The Rise of Googleism: "What's yours is ours" in Googleopia!

A must read for anyone following net neutrality or Google closely is the excellent NYT's article "We're Google. So Sue Us." by Katie HafnerIt helps lay bare the moral relativism in Google's business ethics -- where there is nothing wrong with selling other's property without their permission.

As "arguably the most powerful Internet company" and the corporate ringleader for net neutrality regulation of all things broadband, it is instructive to delve into what kind of leader the net neutrality movement has hitched its wagon to.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths