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FTC

Oversight Questions for FTC's Handling of Google Antitrust Probe -- Part 12 Google Unaccountability Series

The number and seriousness of irregularities, deficiencies, and unanswered questions in the FTC's antitrust investigation of Google's alleged search bias warrant oversight by the Senate and House Antitrust Subcommittees and investigative reporting by the media.

Why FTC Can't Responsibly End the Google Search Bias Antitrust Investigation -- Part 11 Google Unaccountability Series

Press reports indicate that some at the FTC may be questioning if there is sufficient evidence to prove in court the search bias charges recommended by FTC prosecutors. What the media surprisingly has yet to report is that the FTC still has not yet gained access to the thousands of known and likely most-incriminating Google emails and documents that Google has withheld from antitrust investigators -- per the Texas Attorney General's petition to a Federal Court last June.

Intimations that there is no search bias case to prosecute when Google clearly has stonewalled and not fully cooperated with antitrust investigators impugns the integrity of the FTC law enforcement process. These intimations also suggest that Google thinks that its case will be not be decided on the law, merits and evidence, but on political pressure it can bring to bear on the prosecution decision or settlement process.

FTC-Google Antitrust: The Obvious Case for Consumer Harm -- Part 10 Google Unaccountability Series

Despite reports questioning the evidence of consumer harm in the FTC antitrust investigation of Google, it's obviously there if the FTC chooses to charge Google under its Section 5 authority which prohibits "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." The legal threshold for proving consumer harm under Section 5 versus the Sherman Act is dramatically easier for the FTC prosecution to meet. Thus press reports about Google consumer harm are implicitly more about the furious debate over which law(s) to use than it is about the provability of consumer harm.

A main argument the FTC made to win the turf battle over which antitrust agency would lead the Google antitrust investigation, the DOJ or FTC, was that the FTC had Section 5 authority, in addition to the Sherman Act anti-monopolization authority that the DOJ and FTC both share. Unlike antitrust precedent from the Sherman Act, which guides that consumer harm should outweigh any offsetting innovation or consumer benefits, Congress in Section 5 declared deceiving consumers is illegal harm of consumers.

Debasing Free Speech as No-Cost Speech -- Part 1 Defending First Principles Series

The genuine U.S. Constitutional principle of "Freedom of Speech" in the First Amendment -- that protects us from the real and time-tested threat of governmental tyranny -- continues to get debased, devalued and misrepresented by the free-of-cost tech movement of Free-Culture, the Free-Software Foundation, Public Knowledge, and their corporate online-advertising allies who commercially-depend on free content and the no-cost sharing of others' private property. They justify their means of debasing, devaluing and misrepresenting Constitutionally-protected freedom speech because it advances their ends of an Internet information commons.

Ironically these freedom-from-cost interests just argued against a Constitutional interpretation of protecting freedom of speech in a brief before a Federal Appeals Court in opposing Verizon's challenge to the FCC's Open Internet Order, because Verizon had the temerity to assert its Constitutional right to freedom of speech, in addition to other legal and Constitutional defenses.

Could Google Be the Lance Armstrong of Tech? Internet as Oz Series Part 5

David Carr's (NYT) excellent analysis of how the mainstream media missed the truth behind cycling legend Lance Armstrong's systematic cheating and deception -- that ultimately led to the International Cycling Union stripping him of his seven Tour de France titles, to Nike dropping him as a sponsor, and to his resignation as Chairman of his cancer-survivor foundation LIveStrong -- got me thinking about the many sad parallels there are with how the mainstream media and blogosphere have missed the truth behind tech legend Google's systematic cheating and deception.

Just like the mainstream and sports media had much self-interest and fear in challenging Mr. Armstrong's representations, i.e. the loss of advertising and reporter access to top people in the sport, the mainstream media and tech blogosphere also have much self-interest and fear in challenging Google's representations, because Google is the overwhelming source of Internet traffic for the media (via Google Search, News, YouTube, and Android), and is also the primary monetization mechanism for the blogosphere.

Google News-ster, Books-ster, YouTube-ster, Android-ster -- Google's Disrespect for Property Part 13

Newspaper and magazine interests in Germany, France, and Brazil are fighting back against Google News' monetization of their headlines and property without compensation by urging lawmakers to pass laws requiring royalties or revenue sharing for ancillary copyright use of their core product news, per AP and NYT reports.

This piece supports three conclusions.

Google Official Praises "Partly Free" Regime's New Privacy Law -- Internet as Oz Series Part 4

Google's Global Privacy Counsel, Peter Fleischer, cheered Singapore in his blog for passing a "modern privacy law" as a way of denouncing the EU's "out of date" privacy law and its recent threat to enforce it against Google.

Fully exhibiting a couple of the most common Google PR traits, a lack of self-awareness and an instinct for political polarization, Mr. Fleischer effectively lectured the world that it should emulate the privacy lawmaking of a hybrid-authoritarian regime, Singapore, as he denounced and belittled the privacy lawmaking of European democracies. How Orwellian this is, to praise the politically authoritarian treatment of the Singaporean people as "modern," and to denounce the democratic concern for the individual liberties of EU citizens as "bizarre" and "out of date."

The Unique Google Privacy Problem -- My Presentation to Korean Privacy Council in Seoul

Please see my new powerpoint presentation here: "The Unique Google Privacy Problem; Why Google's Forced-Integrated Privacy Policy is So Problematic," which I presented to the Korea Council on the Protection of Personal Information in Seoul Korea this week.

Please don't miss slide 4: "Google's Monopoly Power = Unique Global Privacy Problem: Unfathomable Scale, Scope and Centralization of Private Info." It provides the latest eye-popping stats on Google's rapidly spreading dominance into video, mobile and social.

Also important not to miss are slides 9-10, which present my new conclusions about what Google's forced-integration of its privacy policy means for sovereign nations and the world at large, given the EU/CNIL's strong challenge last week to Google's privacy policy changes without user permission or opt-out option.

This analysis should be of great interest to the ~35 privacy authorities around the world which currently oppose Google's forced-integrated privacy policy (and other nations and privacy professionals as well), because it provides strong evidence, supporting rationale and conclusions to help nations address the #1 global privacy problem.

 

"Pro-trust" EU Competition Remedies for Google's Antitrust Violations

Google remains its own worst enemy in trying to resolve EU antitrust charges.

In early 2012, when Google was trying to convince EU antitrust authorities that enforcement action against Google's search practices -- preferring its own content in search ranking over competitors -- would only harm consumers and was unnecessary because competition was but "a click away" for consumers, Google announced it would consolidate 60 privacy policies without user permission or user choice to opt-out, and then did it a month later, over the EU's strong objections.

This was a flagrant strategic mistake because: first the EU prides itself for strong consumer privacy laws and privacy protections; second the EU fully-understands that consumers' privacy is the de facto currency that Google uses to propel its monopoly; and third Google's primary antitrust defense is that they are the ones that are best looking out for consumers interests and that consumers have plenty of choice.

Will Google Become SoftBank-Sprint's Silent Partner?

Like most analysts, I am not persuaded by the stated rationale and synergies SoftBank has put forth to justify its acquisition of Sprint. At bottom the deal is financial engineering: balance sheet and exchange rate arbitrage; and market timing. It appears to be a financial partnership, not the stated strategic partnership.

SoftBank hopes its shareholders will imagine that the 2013 and beyond U.S. experience of a maturing wireless smart-phone market and Sprint's late-iPhone-entrant role will somehow be analogous to SoftBank's iPhone first-mover experience in 2008 Japan. That's like asserting rock-climbing uphill is analogous with sliding downhill because they both involve hills.

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