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Conflict of Interest

Bringing sunlight to Professor Lessig's Orwellian Doublespeak lecture to the FCC

Not only was I stunned that the FCC allowed Professor Larry Lessig to lecture for a half an hour at the FCC's en banc hearing at Stanford, I was even more stunned no one challenged his blatant misrepresentation and Orwellian "doublespeak" in support of net neutrality.

  • Remember in George Orwell's "1984," how "Big Brother" communicated that: "war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance  is strength" -- creating an upside-down-world where if an idea is repeated enough times... it somehow becomes true?

Here are three of the Orwellian "doublespeak" gems from Lessig's lecture at the FCC en banc hearing:

  1. "Adam Smith" would have favored net neutrality regulation because all companies aspire to be "monopolists."
  2. The "burden of proof" is on those who don't want to change the law to mandate net neutrality.
  3. Being "conservative" means supporting FCC regulation of the Internet.

First, I literally could not believe my ears when Professor Lessig had the unmitigated gall to blatantly misrepresent in his lecture that if Adam Smith were to talk to the FCC that day, that Adam Smith would find a quote from his laissez-faire, free-market tome "Wealth of Nations" -- to somehow defend Professor Lessig's call for preemptive FCC regulation of the Internet. 

Google co-founder admits to discriminating against US content to improve search results

Google co-founder Sergy Brin, one of Google's most avid net neutrality proponents, candidly admitted today in Google's 1Q08 earnings call with investors, that Google "improved" its international search quality by "demoting non-country search results" on Google's improved country home pages.

This is interesting for a few reasons.

The fatal flaws in Lessig-Scott net neutrality editorial sermon

Self-appointed Information Commons messiah Larry Lessig and his Free Press acolyte Ben Scott, advance a slew of "beliefs" that they assiduously proselytize wherever they can gather an audience.

Another glaring example of Google not being "open" with its harmed users -- GrandCentral's outage

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has a great post about when Google's GrandCentral's phone company went down the morning of April 13th, Google users were left completely in the dark and not told anything on Google's website of when they could expect their phone service to return.

New cyber-security report highlights three threats Google is not warning users about

Kudos to Jon Swartz of USA Today for an article last week: "Hackers infiltrate search engines, social networks,"  and Byron Acohido in this week's  article "Anti-virus software isn't only computer security tool" for warning consumers that a Symantec cyber-security report shows a ~500% explosion in detected threats to Internet users from 2006-7.

Swartz' article highlights three new ways Google users are vulnerable to  identity theft, fraud, spyware, and malware threats

  • "Cybercriminals are using a chink in Google's website to redirect unsuspecting PC users to sites containing malicious software. When someone does a Google search, they are redirected to what appears to be a legitimate website. The site, in fact, is tainted with malware. Google says it is fixing the problem." 
  • "...the latest of three computer worms wriggled into Google's social-networking service, Orkut, in February."
  • "Scammers are sending personalized e-mail as meeting invitations in Google Calendar."

As the single biggest potential source of user vulnerability to cyber-threats on the Internet, why is Google not publicly disclosing the exploding risk and/or informing users how they can better protect themselves from these growing and serious cyber-threats?

Why "White Spaces" is just corporate welfare innovation

The Hill has a good article highlighting the growing "battle" over "White Spaces", or the potential for use of the buffer spectrum bands in-between TV channels to ensure that there is no interference with TV signals.

more back and forth with Techdirt on Google fleecing American Taxpayer of $7 billion

I want to thank Mike Masnick for his good comment to my blog post. This post is part of a string responding to Mr. Masnick's criticism of my original blog post entitled: "Google unabashed about gaming FCC auction process to fleece the American taxpayer of $7 billion."

I accept his gracious apology for starting his original critique with an ad hominem attack and I in turn want to apologize to Mr. Masnick for incorrectly assuming that he was on Google's side when he says he has no side -- I take him at his word.

Responding to criticisms of my $7 billion estimate that Google fleeced taxpayers.

Martin Geddes of Circle ID challenged my estimation methodology in reaching that Google fleeced the American taxpayer for $7 billion.  

With all due respect to Mr. Geddes, first his analogy of taking "a tasty apple, a yummy banana and a mouldy pear, is simply not analogous here. One doesn't pay $4.7b for a "mouldy pear." The regulations did not make the spectrum itself bad to eat, but simply restricted the use of the spectrum or in Mr. Geddes example how someone would be allowed to eat a good pear. People will pay less for a fruit if they are restricted on when and how they can eat it. 

Second, Mr. Geddes suggests I am confusing the American taxpayer with the American public. I most certainly am not. I am recognizing that there is a very specific law, the 1993 Budget Act, which effectively defines that the American public is the American taxpayer because the purpose of these spectrum auctions are to reduce budget deficits. One may not agree with how the law defines the American public in this instance, but that opinion doesn't change that it is the operative law here.  

My estimate in my blog was trasparent and simple so everyone could see how I got my figure.

  • The important point here is that Google fleeced the American taxpayer of several billion dollars, was it $7b? $5?b $9b? $3b? -- it depends on the estimating method.
  • My estimating method was straightforward, transparent, logical, simple and easy to understand. 
  • I stand by it until someone else comes up with a more defensible estimate.    

Google unabashed about gaming the FCC auction process to fleece the taxpayer of ~$7billion

Many have broadly swallowed Google's "spin" that Google really "won" by losing the 700Mhz auction -- without digesting the serious implications of Google's public admission.   

  • So needy to convince everyone that Googlers, yet again, proved themselves to be the smartest people alive, Google hasn't realized that they have unabashedly admitted to de facto gaming and manipulating an official Government auction statutorily-created to fully reward taxpayers for commercial use of public airwaves. 
  • Miguel Helft of The New York Times has the best coverage of Google's actions in the auction in his article: "An Auction That Google Was Content to Lose." 
    • Our primary goal was to trigger the openness conditions,” said Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington telecommunications and media counsel."
    • The article goes on to explain its nonsensical bidding strategy of bidding against itself: "For much of the first week, Google gradually topped its own bids. With no competitors emerging, anxiety grew."  

So what's wrong with what Google did?  

First and foremost, Google's flagrant manipulation of the auction rules and process fleeced the American taxpayer out of at least $7 billion, by my estimate.

Google is not warning its users of its role in one of largest cyber-security breaches ever on the Net

USA Today broke a much under-appreciated and potentially blockbuster Internet security breach story: "Google searchers could end up with a new type of bug." Kudos to Byron Acohido and Jon Swartz, who reported it in USA Today, and also blogged on it at ZeroDayThreat.com, a site for their book "Zero Day Threat" which defines a Zero day Threat as "a threat so new that no viable protections against it exists." 

  • In a nutshell, the article and blog post explain how cybercrook hackers have figured out how to use and leverage Google's search engine results "to spread spam, and carry out scams. Typically it also lets the attacker embed a keystroke logger, which collects and transmits your passwords and any other sensitive data you type online."
  • This new cyber scam ring is expected to spread rapidly, increasing from a "few dozen major websites" today, to  "hundreds of high-profile websites" in the next few weeks.
  • "...in March alone... security researchers found several hundred thousand corrupted Web pages returned in common Google search queries."

Why this is a big deal:

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths