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EU poised to approve Google-DoubleClick; Google's increasing dominance now on EU regulatory radar

(Investors: don't miss the last part of this post.) 

Sources indicate that the EU is poised to approve the pending Google-DoubleClick merger soon in what insiders described as a "close call."

Google caught censoring free speech... again -- where's the indignance from net neutrality supporters?

Fox News reported that Google quietly reinstated an Inner City Press news service that specializes in UN corruption news, that Google had previously censored from its search engine and from Google news.

  • Per Fox News: "The reaction to the de-listing, however temporary, had been furious. The non-profit Government Accountability Project lambasted the company, calling Inner City Press "the most effective and important media organization for U.N. whistleblowers.""

Important Questions:

The comical spin-fest of Markey net neutrality bill supporters

The frantic spin-fest by supporters of House Telecom Chairman Ed Markey's new net neutrality bill was truly comical to watch. Let me share some of the more precious "spin" moments from last week.

Gigi Sohn, Founder of Public Knowledge, said in Comm Daily"The new net neutrality bill has a better chance of passing than previous ones. What's different this year is the momentum leading up to it."

  • Hmmmm. The new Markey bill, HR5353, which has been in the works for 13 months of this session has two co-sponsors, lets count them again, one...two..., and one of these two is retiring from Congress this year.
  • In the Senate, the Dorgan-Snowe bill, an exact replica of the failed 2006 version, was introduced 13 months ago and has had near zero Senate consideration or attention, not even a hearing.
  • Meanwhile back at the ranch... net neutrality regulation has been opposed by the FCC, FTC, the DOJ Antitrust Divsion and the three states that examined it: Michigan, Maryland, and Maine.
  • Gigi may be technically correct that the issue indeed has "momentum," however, Gigi remains mum on the DIRECTION of that "momentum" -- as that would be unnecessary buzz-kill to share with people.

Ben Scott, the policy director of Moveon.org's FreePress arm, and Gigi Sohn were obviously speaking from the exact same approved talking points:

The Google Welfare Act of 2008

Chairman Markey's newly introduced net neutrality bill should more aptly be called "The Google Welfare Act of 2008." 

  • Google was quick to applaud introduction of the Markey bill on its blog and in a fawning call with reporters. 
  • Google's standard line was that "this bill is not about Google but about the next Google."
    • When anyone says something is not about "me" but about the next incarnation of "me" you can be pretty sure it really is about the "me."

Let us cut through all the platitudes, spin, fluff and distractions in this bill of which there are many. Let us also remember the useful phrase: "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

  • Proponents of the Markey bill are indeed telling the truth that the bill does not formally or explicitly mandate FCC net neutrality regulations.
  • Unfortunately they are not telling "the whole truth and nothing but the truth," because the real world impact of the crux of this bill would be to trigger a cascade of new regulations of the Internet in order to comply with the U.S. policy change in this bill.

Why would the Markey bill trigger a cascade of new Internet regulations?

Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management -- new one-pager

Given the flurry of comments to the FCC on the FreePress petition on Comcast's network management due yesterday, I produced a new NetCompetition one-pager on Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management. I find the one-page format is useful to crystalize my thinking and boil my thoughts down most succinctly.

The primary conclusions in the one pager are:

  • Net neutrality has an inherent bias against network management.
  • Network Neutrality defines network management as discrimination.
  • Net neutrality is not a "practical' principle; the word "reasonable" exists for a reason. 

For those who don't want to use the one-page format or link above, I have copied the full text below:

Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management   Net Neutrality has an inherent bias against network management.   

NetCompetition press release on Markey Net Neutrality Bill -- wolf in sheeps clothing

  

For Immediate Release                                                                    

Contact:  Scott Cleland

February 13, 2008                                                                                              

202-828-7800  Markey Net Neutrality Bill is “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” 

WASHINGTONScott Cleland, chairman of NetCompetition.org, today released the following statement regarding Representative Ed Markey’s proposed net neutrality bill:

 

Chairman Markey's Net Neutrality Wolf in Broadband Sheep's Clothing Act

The long-awaited new Net Neutrality bill is finally coming out from House Telecom Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey and Rep. Chip Pickering -- it's now called "The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008."

After reviewing the draft version circulating among the media this evening, here are my initial takeaways on the new proposed legislation.

First, the proposed legislation attempts to rebrand the controversial "net neutrality" issue as "Internet Freedom" and "broadband policy."  

  • While most all of the net neutrality buzzwords still pepper the legislation (open, discrimination, blocking, degrading, etc.) conspicuously absent from the legislation is the well-known and never fully defined "net neutrality" brand. 
  • This is odd given all the effort Markey's supporters have put into branding this issue over the last two years. 
  • It is doubtful that most people on the Hill, in industry, and in the press will stop calling it Markey's new Net Neutrality bill. 

Second, the bill's primary purpose is a bold attempt to reverse longstanding United States broadband policy by amending Title I of the 1934 Communications Act. This Markey bill would:

Calling Yahoo's Bluff -- How real is the Google outsourcing option? Not!

In reading most all the major press reports on the Microsoft-Yahoo bid, there has been plenty of reporting on the personalities, the price and the process, but precious little analysis of the core assumption whether Yahoo truly has a credible alternative strategic option -- in outsourcing its search to Google. 

  • One can't get a true handle on the likely endgame of this transaction without a more rigorous testing of this outsourcing pillar assumption:
    • Is outsourcing Yahoo's search function to Google a viable and real strategic option given recent antitrust concerns?
  • No. Upon close examination of the facts, this alternative is a weak bluff by Yahoo at best -- designed to buy time and create the perception that Yahoo has more maneuvering room than Yahoo really does.

Would antitrust officials allow Yahoo to outsource its search function to Google? Highly unlikely. 

Google's Schmidt is new Chairman of New America Foundation -- a force behind information commons

The ascension of Google's CEO Eric Schmidt to Chairman of the the Board of the New America Foundation puts a helpful spotlight on Google's activist agenda in Washington and the cozy relationship between Google and the New America Foundation.

It's important to note that the New America Foundation is one of the two organizational parents of the "information commons" movement -- in that it coauthor-ed the "Saving the Information Commons" manifesto in 2002 with Public Knowlege, which laid the policy groundwork for a more communal Internet, where Internet infrastructure and digital content are supposed to be "open" "commons" or communally-owned by everyone.  

Google is one of the biggest proponents of this "open Internet" ideology where "open" is a codeword for "communal." The Information commons movement has conveniently defined the Internet commons as the property of others that they don't think that they should have to pay for ... e.g. communications companies' networks and content companies' content. (They conveniently have excluded Google from the commons obligation, apparently as long as Google preaches "openness" for everyone else...)

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths