eBay seeks a better deal for itself than for its users

I'll be interested to learn how many eBay users see through the self-serving call to action letter they received yesterday from eBay CEO Meg Whitman. eBay users are very savvy business people, and if they read the letter carefully, they will see that eBay is asking to get a better bandwidth deal for itself than its users get.

If eBay didn't live in the rarified air of 82% gross profit margins and the Internet giant elites, and if eBay truly looked at the world through its earthbound users' eyes, it would see that eBay users have long toiled away in the "two-tiered" Internet world that they look upon with such disdain. eBay should know that its users have long had the competitive choice of using the slow-lane, "dirt road" of dial-up (still used by ~35 million American households), and the faster lanes of different types of broadband (now used by over 37 million American

Net Neutrality Debated on NPR

I spoke about net neutrality this morning on the NPR program On Point. While I had hoped for a more balanced debate, I was able to make a solid argument for letting competition, not government, continue to shape the Internet and encourage online innovation. I was also able to briefly mention how network neutrality legislation is actually corporate welfare for Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay and others. Right now, there are a lot of people out there trying to scare people into supporting net neutrality. The fear-mongering about censored content, degraded Internet, etc.

ItsOurNet.org: The boy who cried wolf

ItsOurNet.org continues the well-established net neutrality pattern of crying “wolf" in hopes of scaring people into running to their rescue on net neutrality. They obviously think people are stupid and won’t remember what they say. Just like the proverbial boy who cried wolf learned the hard way, if people can’t trust that your cries for help are true, they won’t believe you when you do tell the truth. People aren’t stupid and they do remember. The e-commerce giants’ latest crying-wolf, with absolutely no evidence to support it, is shameless: implying that Moms won’t be able to protect their families; e-mail users won’t be able to keep in touch with family and friends, small businesses won’t be able to survive online, and churches won’t be able to get their messages out to congregants.

Itswhosenet? Itsournet.org's Freudian Slip?

We welcome the ecommerce giants: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon and IAC in coming out of the shadows and publicly sponsoring a new website -- tellingly-named “itsournet.org" -- to debate the merits of net neutrality legislation. However, we are a little puzzled by the name choice of “itsournet.org." Until now no one was bold enough to claim “ownership" of the Internet. Was this just a Freudian slip by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, whose 80-90% gross profit margins make them feel like they really do “own" the Internet so to speak? A better name choice might have been “itseverybodysnet.org," which would come across a little more inclusive, “democratic" and a little less covetous.

Why the Internet doesn't need saving

Net neutrality fear-mongering aside, the Internet doesn’t need new net neutrality regulation to survive or thrive. The Internet is healthy and flourishing on its own. The Internet is no baby anymore that needs a government nanny for its protection and sustenance. The Internet is all grown up and fully capable of taking care of itself.

It’s important to remember the many natural and powerful defenses the Internet has developed to protect itself -- that do not depend on net neutrality.

First and foremost, the Internet is the only universally-accepted and ubiquitously-deployed communications technology on the planet; this affords the Internet extraordinary importance, influence and independence.

    Is Google's "neutral" definition: talking out of both sides of one's mouth?

    Did anyone else connect-the-dots of hypocrisy in Google’s new toolbar deal with Dell? Up front let me say, I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with Google paying Dell to have Google’s web browser search toolbar installed as the default search tool in the 20 million PCs that Dell ships each year. That’s competition and a free market at work. However, I also think it is the height of hypocrisy for Google, the Nation’s primary Internet search gatekeeper, to say that it’s perfectly ok for them to vertically integrate and engage preferential content deals, but that the same type of business practices by their potential competitors, competitive broadband providers, should be made illegal? Given that so much of the Google brand depends on user trust that Google is principled and will “do no evil? in skewing search results as the Nation’s primary Internet search gatekeeper, I am surprised they would adopt such a self-serving and highly-public double-standard with regard to the net neutrality “principle.? Does Google want to develop a reputation for saying one thing but doing another? A free and open Internet is important for them, but not for new potential competitors.

    Is Net Neutrality Principled?

    If net neutrality is truly an Internet principle, would Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon all agree to abide by the same principle of treating everyone the same in conducting their Internet businesses? This is a relevant question because the Internet browser and Internet search markets are actually much more concentrated and less competitive than the wireless market to which they want to apply net neutrality.

    No Internet Search Discrimination? Will Google, Yahoo and Microsoft pledge to treat all search results equally and not discriminate against content by ranking websites based on how much advertising they pay to be a sponsored listing? Will they agree to not have a two-tiers of Internet search, one with sponsored listings at the top for those who pay the most and another at the bottom for those that can’t pay?

    One-way Competition/Convergence?

    Surprise. Surprise. Silicon Valley's hometown newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, has self-servingly endorsed net neutrality in its editorial today, "Saving Internet Equality." The problem is that the underlying premise of their editorial simply isn't true. Net neutrality isn't about Internet equality; it is classic special interest legislation seeking special government favors for the tech industry over the communications industry. Why should e-commerce giants and website interests get the special treatment of regulated prices, terms and conditions for bandwidth, just for them, when everyone else -- consumers, businesses, government, and broadband providers -- all have to pay a competitive price for bandwidth?

    Net Neutrality Hypocrisy over Government Monitoring

    How could the government actually enforce net neutrality’s mandate requiring equal treatment of Internet traffic without mass government monitoring and surveillance of average Americans’ Internet behavior? Hypocritically, those most indignant about the Bush Administration’s NSA phone call database monitoring are often the most vocal supporters of government mandated and enforced net neutrality. If government monitoring and surveillance of communications is not warranted to fight terrorism, how do they justify it to enforce a lesser priority of ensuring commercial net neutrality for e-commerce websites?

    Why Net Neutrality is Anti-Consumer

    Why should websites get special government treatment better than everyone else?

    • Everyone else, consumers, businesses, broadband providers, and the government have to pay the competitive price for the bandwidth they use and for additional features like mobility. All Internet backbone companies “peer" at different commercially-negotiated rates based on bandwidth and quality.
    • Website interests, ecommerce-sellers and bloggers, want special government treatment -- just for them -- one government-set broadband price, with special terms and conditions that consumers don’t get.

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