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Why FTC's $22.5m Google Privacy-Fine is Faux Accountability

If one fact-checks and puts in perspective the FTC's expected $22.5m privacy fine of Google -- for bypassing millions of Apple Safari users' privacy and security settings to add a tracking cookie to track users browsing activity -- it looks like faux FTC accountability of Google. Close scrutiny of the FTC's oversight record of Google's exceptionally bad consumer record and very long privacy rap sheet suggests that Google could have little to fear from the FTC on pending privacy or antitrust enforcement going forward, despite PR and optics to the contrary. Unfortunately, the evidence to date indicates the FTC's enforcement oversight of Google has had minimal accountability or deterrent effect on Google's behavior.

To be fair to the FTC, the FTC does not have all the legal authority it needs to fully address the Google privacy enforcement problem, but that being acknowledged, many poor FTC decisions have further self-limited the FTC's ability to confront the exceptional Google enforcement problem.

I. Google appears to enjoy faux FTC Accountability.

U.S. Net Neutrality Movement in Retreat

Recent evidence confirms that the U.S. net neutrality movement is in substantial retreat and trying to fall back to more defensible ground, on which to make its next stand. The movement is by no means defeated overall, as it is resilient, well-funded and organized. It is actually in ascendance in Europe with the European Parliament's vote supporting net neutrality.

Importantly FreePress, the clear leader of the net neutrality movement via its six-year stewardship of SaveTheInternet.com, recently asked the D.C. Court of Appeals for permission to withdraw its legal challenge to the FCC's net neutrality rules for not being strict enough. After six years of full-throated constant campaigning for net neutrality legislation or FCC regulation in the U.S., it is remarkable that FreePress has quietly retreated from the latest and most pivotal net neutrality battlefield in the U.S. -- i.e. whether or not the FCC's net neutrality regulations stand or are thrown out by the D.C. Court of Appeals. FreePress' emailed statement to reporters said: "We felt that there were better ways to accomplish our goals of promoting Internet freedom, and decided to direct our resources elsewhere in the continued campaign to preserve the open Internet."

Why U.S. Communications Law is Obsolete -- My Daily Caller Op-ed

Please don't miss my latest Daily Caller Op-ed: "Why U.S. Communications Law is Obsolete" here.

You won't look at current communications law the same way again.


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Obsolete Communications Law Op-ed Series:

SCOTUS Indecency Ruling's Effect on Net Neutrality

The Supreme Court's 8-0 decision on FCC vs. Fox, vacated the FCC's indecency penalties against Fox and ABC for "fleeting expletives and momentary nudity" because the FCC violated constitutional "due process protection against vague regulations" for failing to provide fair notice of what would be "actionably indecent."

How is this decision relevant to net neutrality?

First, "net neutrality" is like "obscenity" or "indecency", in that it's often in the eye of the beholder, and is devilishly difficult to define definitively. The tweet-length provision of law in question (Section 1464) is: "Whoever utters any obscene, indecent, or profane language by means of radio communications shall be fined…"

The term "net neutrality" -- that proponents have gone so far as to hype as "the first amendment of the Internet" -- can be found nowhere in law. The concept is wholly organic to the FCC, in that it started as a concept in a speech that called for no regulation for it, became an unenforceable FCC policy statement, was then used as the basis for an enforcement action, and then became an FCC order that has been challenged in court for being unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious, and without statutory authority.

Check out CEI's insightful take on net neutrality and liberty

If you want to gain a better grasp why the net neutrality debate often yields such confusing and contradictory uses of the words "liberty" and "freedom" when people argue for or against net neutrality, please read CEI's Ben Sperry's take: "Net Neutrality: Two Concepts of Liberty."

Well said Ben! Incisive, insightful and illuminating.

Video: Why Netflix' Net Neutrality Complaint to DOJ is Specious

Thanks to Mike Wendy of Media Freedom for capturing my 3 minute explanation of why Netflix' net neutrality complaint to the DOJ against cable broadband usage pricing is specious.

You can view it here.

 

Google's Picking a Third Antitrust Fight in Becoming a Domain Registrar

Is anyone paying attention to the profound antitrust implications of Google applying to ICANN to become the world's largest domain registrar for Internet Taxonomy 2.0 -- the next generation of Internet addressing and classification of information? Giving the world's dominant search engine -- that is already under antitrust investigation on four continents for favoring Google content over competitors' content -- the additional market power of controlling the allocation of new keyword domain-names which Google would then index for publishers, rank for users, and monetize for advertisers, is an unquestionable conflict of interest and a recipe for more Google monopolization.

ICANN's original Internet taxonomy 1.0 involved truly "generic" top level domains as like .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, .mil, organized around institutional purposes and around geography to recognize sovereign nation authority like .US, .UK, .JP, .NZ, etc.

Obsolete Analysis Will Doom DOJ's Antitrust Probe of Cable -- My Daily Caller Op-ed

Please read my latest Daily Caller Op-ed: "Obsolete Analysis Will Doom DOJ's Antitrust Probe of Cable" here.

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Obsolete Communications Law Op-ed Series:

Part 1: Obsolete communications law stifles innovation, harms consumers

Part 2: "The FCC's Public Interest Test Problem"

Part 3: "FCC Special Access: Communications Obsolete-ism vs. Modernism"

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Broadband Usage Pricing Research Series:

Part 7: "Broadband Pricing is Naturally Evolving to Usage Tiers"

Part 6: "Leaf Vision & Broadband Usage Caps"

Part 5: "Consumer Group's Advocacy Hypocrisy"

FCC Special Access: Communications Obsolete-ism vs Modernism -- My Daily Caller Op-ed (Part 3 in Series)

Please read my latest Daily Caller Op-ed: "FCC Special Access: Communications Obsolete-ism vs. Modernism" here.

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Obsolete Communications Law Op-ed Series:

Part 1: "Obsolete communications law stifles innovation, harms consumers"

Part 2: "The FCC's Public Interest Test Problem"

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Precursor Special Access Research Series:

Part 5: "FCC: Forced Access Economics & Selective Math"

Part 4: "Special Access Facts Show More Not Less Competition"

Part 3: "What's the Broadband Plan Implementation Vision? Affirming Competition Policy? Or the Retro-genda?

Part 2: "Special Access Nostalgia for Telecom's Bronze Age is No Path to 21st Century Broadband Leadership"

Verizon-Cable: The Foundation of a Fifth National Wireless Competitor (Part 10 of a series)

Are the FCC and DOJ paying attention? They say they want more wireless competition. Well the foundations of an economically-viable fifth national wireless broadband network are staring them in the face in the pending Verizon-Cable spectrum transaction, if only they would get on with approving it.

Critics and skeptics of the transaction have an obsolete and myopic view that competition must develop in the way that Congress first envisioned it seventeen years ago in the 1996 Telecom Act -- before the commercial Internet, residential WiFi, broadband wireless, smart phones or tablet computers ever existed. Critics are blind to the technology innovations, competitive developments and hybrid-business models that now are enabling the cable industry to transform into a potentially disruptive fifth national wireless broadband competitor long term.

FreePress' and Public Knowledge's desperate campaign to: discredit competition policy, twist any competitive development into anti-competitive behavior, and block the Verizon-Cable transaction -- can't overcome the obvious facts that this Verizon-Cable transaction is exceptionally pro-competitive.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths