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Freedom of Speech

Google Board recommmends against applying Net Neutrality to Google

Per Reuters, Google's board is recommending that its investors vote against a shareholder proposal from the New York City Employee Retirement System that asks Google to commit to abiding by Net Neutrality.

  • Why would Google, which avidly supports:
    • All pending net neutrality legislation in Congress;
    • the Save the Internet and Open Internet coalitions which were created to promote net neutrality;
    • Open access/Net neutrality rules for wireless in the FCC's 700 MHz auction;
      • oppose living by the same rules as it wishes to apply to its competitors?
  • Why would Google avidly support the FCC's net neutrality principles, which explicitly apply to: "network providers, application and service providers, and content providers", but not agree to apply them to Google itself? 

Bottom line Questions:

House Judiciary Free Speech hearing a yawner; Christian Coalition couldn't answer simple questions

The House Judiciary hearing on "Free Speech and the Internet" this afternoon was perilously close to being a non-event.

  • While Net neutrality activists will claim and spin victory and momentum in getting a congressional hearing on the subject, anyone who listened to the hearing would have been surprised by how little actual support net neutrality got out of this hearing

What I found most interesting and telling at the hearing is that Michelle Combs of the Christian Coalition, who testified in support of net neutrality, was completely unable to answer simple softball questions by Ranking Member Sensenbrenner. Like a proverbial "doe in headlights" she could not answer the simplest of questions for a witness; she had to ask for help from her fellow panelists, which made it obvious that she was only a symbolic figurehead on the subject and did not understand even the most basic parts of the net neutrality issue. These were the two questions and answers paraphrased:  

Politicizing the Internet -- why net neutrality is not about free speech

Politicizing the Internet

Fabricating a Free Speech Threat to Justify Regulating the Internet and An“Information Commons”     American ISPs are facilitating an unprecedented explosion of free speech.

Exposing the sanctimony of net neutrality activists

Enough of Net neutrality activists' hypocritical sanctimony over freedom, free speech and democracy! It is sickening.

Net neutrality activists claim to support freedom, free speech, and democracy, but they really don't in practice.

First, let's look at the recent activist whining from FreePress/SaveTheInternet about how the FCC network management forum at Harvard was somehow hijacked by Comcast sympathetic attendees or who these activists have derisively called "seat fillers."

Google caught censoring free speech... again -- where's the indignance from net neutrality supporters?

Fox News reported that Google quietly reinstated an Inner City Press news service that specializes in UN corruption news, that Google had previously censored from its search engine and from Google news.

  • Per Fox News: "The reaction to the de-listing, however temporary, had been furious. The non-profit Government Accountability Project lambasted the company, calling Inner City Press "the most effective and important media organization for U.N. whistleblowers.""

Important Questions:

Google humor: "human review trumps technology" in filtering for copyright

I had to stop myself from bursting out laughing when listening to Google-YouTube's product counsel, Mia Garlick, speak on the Internet Caucus panel on "Internet Copyright Filters: Finding the Balance."

  • Google-YouTube's representative said with a straight face: "human review trumps technology" in copyright filtering.  

Let that little quote sink in for a moment.

Google...

  • the self-described technology company,
  • the algorithm leader,
  • the company that automates virtually everything internally,
  • the company that is not interested in pursuing businesses or tasks that cannot be automated or condensed to an algorithm,
  • the company that has taken innovation and technology to a new level on the Internet,
  • the company that uses technology for customer service not humans...
    •  is saying that "human review trumps technology"?

If human review of content trumps technology, why doesn't Google rank/filter all the world's content in its search process with human review rather than technology -- if human review is better?

ACLU kneecaps argument that net neutrality implicates First Amendment freedom of speech

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) entered the fray on net neutrality yesterday in an important ACLU blogpost: "Free Speech and Net Neutrality: Separating fact from fiction."

While the ACLU predictably voiced strong POLITICAL support for net neutrality, the ACLU Blog surprisingly and effectively eviscerated the LEGAL and practical case for using the analogy that "Net Neutrality is the First Amendment of the Internet."

  • ACLU blog: "At the same time, the First Amendment is not directly implicated because unlike the government, your ISP is not a traditional "state actor" — a requirement for triggering First Amendment cases."
    • Duh.
    • The ACLU makes plain what any junior high civics student knows -- that the First Amendment is there to prevent the Government from abridging individuals freedom of speech -- not companies or other individuals.
    • This badly flawed "First Amendment" analogy only highlights how net neutrality proponents are loose with the facts and analogies. 
      • The net neutrality movement is "all slogan and no substance."

Net neutrality is not about free speech. It's classic buzzword political blackmail. Proponents cynically believe that if they repeat the conspiracy theory that big corporations want to systematically take away their customers freedom of speech -- that some people will believe it.

Has Tim Wu lost his credibility? in his tunnel-vision piece: "Has AT&T lost its mind?"

Tim Wu is losing credibility fast. 

  • His new piece in Slate: "Has AT&T lost its mind? A baffling proposal to filter the Internet" is myopic, uniformed, and borderline hysterical.

Mr. Wu please calm down. Put away any sharp objects and please listen to some reason. 

More guilty-until-proven-innocent regulation from Google's Poodles; new petition on texting regulation

The Washington Post reports that a consortium of Google's closest net neutrality allies: FreePress/Moveon.org, Public Knowledge, New America Foundation, Media Access Project, are poised to petition the FCC again, this time to mandate that wireless carriers deliver all text messages to their customers, even including text messages by wireless competitors trying to sell their competing wireless services.

How Principled is Google about free speech when it opposes the "Global Online Freedom Act"?

An editorial by the New York Times on free speech points out that Google and other big Internet companies in fact oppose legislation that promotes free speech for those who most need it around the world.

  • "Last January, Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey reintroduced the Global Online Freedom Act in the House. It would fine American companies that hand over information about their customers to foreign governments that suppress online dissent. The bill would at least give American companies a solid reason to decline requests for data, but the big Internet companies do not support it. That shows how much they care about the power of information to liberate the world." [emphasis added]

It seems all this Google-funded effort to cloak net neutrality as a "freedom of speech" issue by Moveon.org, FreePress, Public Knowledge and other Google-supported pressure groups, is just a cynical tactic and political ploy because Google actually opposes free speech when the rubber meets the road -- like with the "Global Online Freedom Act."

  • In other words, Google supports freedom on speech when it benefits Google's business, but opposes it when it does not help Google's business.
  • I just wish Google would be honest and forthright about their supposed "don't be evil" principles...  

 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths