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Big Internet’s Most Special Interests – Part 7: Internet as Oz Series

If the Internet Association is presumptuous enough to unilaterally deem itselfthe unified voice of the Internet economy,” I guess we should not be surprised that on the same day that our duly-elected President delivered the State of the Union, the unelected President of the Internet Association would be presumptuous enough to deliver the “State of the Internet.” 

However, that presumptuousness pales in comparison to the hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness of claiming in the ‘State of the Internet’ that “the Internet continues to challenge entrenched special interests,” when there is no special interest that seeks and expects more special treatment than the fifteen Big Internet companies that comprise the Internet Association.  

Let’s review Big Internet’s most special appetite for special treatment, favoritism and an unlevel-playing-field-advantage.

First, in the President’s recent cyber-security Executive Order, Big Internet successfully lobbied for a complete exemption from cyber-security regulations affecting similarly “critical” companies (see section 9a), despite the fact many Big Internet companies serve a vastly higher percentage of all Americans than most all other companies subject to the order do, and the fact that Internet markets are among the Nation’s most concentrated and hence most vulnerable to disruption.

It is telling that the Internet Association’s members routinely claim to be to critical to the economy and to so many people’s daily lives and businesses, when it suits their interests, but when it doesn’t, they secure a special lobbying exemption for just themselves.  

Second, in the EU over the last few months, American Big Internet companies have been lobbying heavily for most special treatment to be the only entities exempt from EU data protection law that otherwise would apply to every other entity in the world that serves EU citizens.

Third, during last fall’s big multi-stakeholder effort in Dubai opposing the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) attempt to assert regulatory authority over the Internet, Big Internet companies were willing to support new ITU price regulation of broadband companies, if the ITU would most specially exempt the Big Internet companies from the ITU’s new assertion of authority.

Fourth, when Google was leading Big Internet’s opposition to SOPA/PIPA anti-piracy and anti counterfeiting legislation, Big Internet companies and Google indicated they would support a “follow the money” anti-piracy enforcement approach that would mandate credit card and payment companies to crack down on foreign rogue websites, if search engines (Google) were most specially exempt from any responsibility to crack down on foreign rogue websites in the law.

Fifth on patent legislation, Big Internet companies and Google demonize non-practicing entities who legally sue to protect their patent rights as abusive “patent trolls” in their State of the Internet, while ignoring that just last  month, Google, the largest member of the Internet Association, was charged by the FTC with illegally abusing its standard essential patents. Simply, it’s somehow not OK for non-Internet Association entities to legally enforce their property rights, but it is OK for Internet Association members to illegally break licensing agreements for Standards Essential Patents?       

Finally, the Internet Association’s ‘State of the Internet’ urges a free market approach to matters affecting Big Internet companies, but implicitly urges a much more interventionist government role in regulating broadband access and adoption -- going so far as to demand that “Internet access must be considered a basic human right.”  This comports with the Internet Association’s special support for network neutrality price regulation of competitive broadband providers, as long as the expectation of neutrality never applies to Internet Association members’ much-larger Internet networks.  

In sum, the record exposes that there may be no special interest that seeks and expects more special treatment from the Government than the fifteen Big Internet companies that comprise the Internet Association.  

Sadly, the only consistent lobbying principle that Big Internet appears to abide by is – a reverse golden rule – make sure that other companies are treated the way Big Internet companies don’t want to be treated.


Internet as Oz Series:

Part 1: The New Internet Association's Back Story

Part 2: Top False Claims of the New Internet Association

Part 3: Internet Astroturf 3.0

Part 4: Google Official Praises 'Partly Free' Regime's Privacy Law

Part 5: Could Google Be the Lance Armstrong of Tech?

Part 6: The Google Lobby Defines Big Internet’s Policy Agenda