Google Facebook Amazon’s Non-Neutral, Neutrality Nonsense Harms Competition

What is non-neutral, neutrality nonsense?

When the world’s dominant biased-broker Internet platforms, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, are the biggest funders of network neutrality and utility common carrier regulation for competitive ISPs, and their dominant, increasingly utility-like, network-effect-driven, business models, regularly treat other businesses non-neutrally while misrepresenting to the public that they are neutral platforms.

Google, Facebook, and Amazon demand maximal ISP regulation for network neutrality, transparency, and accountability, when ISPs operate their networks neutrally, transparently and accountably without it, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon fiercely oppose operating their much larger, global, encrypted-networks, with network neutrality, transparency, or accountability.

The “techlash” has exposed Google, Facebook, and Amazon, as the most dominant companies in the U.S. warranting antitrust scrutiny, as inherently biased-broker non-neutral networks, and as privileged platforms who abuse Section 230 immunity from civil liability to operate non-neutral, non-transparent, unaccountable, and anticompetitive Internet platforms.  

This is the non-neutral, neutrality nonsense of Google, Facebook, and Amazon – i.e. their asymmetric regulatory recipe for a winner-take-all, unlevel playing field.

Since the Pai-FCC’s Restore Internet Freedom order reversed the Wheeler-FCC’s 1934 Title II utility broadband regulation order last year, ISPs have publicly represented that they would respect net neutrality and not block or throttle, and have done so, and the FTC has been the cop on the beat to ensure the ISPs fulfill their net neutrality public representations.

Most importantly, ISPs also have long offered to codify their no blocking or throttling net neutrality commitments into permanent law, but Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the Internet Association have consistently opposed a Congressional net neutrality solution in law.   

Net Neutrality is back in the news with California’s extreme net neutrality legislation being signed into law.

DOJ immediately announced it would seek a court injunction against the California law before it can go into effect January 1st because it violates the Supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, since the FCC Restore Internet Freedom order explicitly preempts state regulation of Internet interstate commerce like the California bill does.  

Google, Facebook, and Amazon implicitly support state net neutrality legislation, because they have long rejected ongoing and open offers to legislate a Federal compromise net neutrality regime into U.S. law.   

It is telling that Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the Internet Association have been silent apparently, in response to passage of California’s net neutrality law that explicitly rejects a Federal net neutrality regulation framework. That’s hypocritically in contrast to their strong support of Federal U.S. privacy law that preempts states on Internet privacy law.

Net neutrality and privacy are different and complementary intangible public policy values of how intangible Internet traffic/data should be treated by the entity responsible for it. Why Google, Facebook, and Amazon, believe privacy warrants a Federal framework with state preemption, but net neutrality does not, is hypocritical neutrality nonsense.  

When the DOJ predictably wins its court injunction blocking California state net neutrality regulation in the months ahead, this will be the FOURTH TIME that Google, Facebook and Amazon backed net neutrality regulation of ISPs will have been overturned by the U.S. Government.

Remember the:


1) 2010 Comcast v. FCC court decision overturned the FCC’s 2008 Martin-FCC Comcast Broadband Order;


2) 2014 Verizon v. FCC court decision overturned the FCC’s 2010 Genachowski-FCC Open Internet Order;


3) 2017 Pai-FCC Restoring Internet Freedom order, overturned the 2015 Wheeler-FCC Open Internet Order; and


4) DOJ’s 2018 Supremacy clause lawsuit for a Federal injunction against the California net neutrality law.

In sum, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are the Net Neutrality Masters of Misdirection, in pointing public attention towards ISPs as the potential Internet anticompetitive, privacy, and discrimination problem, when the techlash spotlight shows most of the Internet’s real monopolistic, anticompetitive, anti-privacy, and unfair, deceptive, and discriminatory behavior has been perpetrated by the dominant, non-transparent, and Section-230-unaccountable Internet platforms: Alphabet-Google, Facebook and Amazon.

If Google, Facebook, and Amazon wanted net neutrality they would support legislation to codify it into law.

What they really want is an unlevel playing field, i.e. sustaining their unbeatable anticompetitive-advantage of asymmetric regulation.

They’ve played us all -- for a fourth time.    


Scott Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is President of Precursor LLC, an Internet competition and policy consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, some of which are Internet platform competitors, and he is Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests. Cleland has testified before the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees on Google. Eight different Congressional subcommittees have sought Cleland's expert testimony and when he worked as an investment analyst, Institutional Investor twice ranked him the #1 independent analyst in his field.