Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2016-02-15 22:48
What’s a consumer to think about what the FCC’s responsibility is for their privacy protection?
Let me try to explain to a consumer what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) arbitrarily has done, and apparently intends to do, for consumer internet privacy protection going forward.
By way of background, for the first decade of the Internet when consumers used dial-up technology, the FCC was responsible for protecting consumers’ private network information from commercial use without their permission.
For the second decade of the Internet when consumers came to use broadband technology, the FCC ceded its dial-up-Internet privacy protection authority to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which became responsible for consumer privacy protection from unfair and deceptive practices consistently across the entire American Internet ecosystem, regardless of who interacted with consumers’ private information.
Last spring, in order to assert legal authority to enforce net neutrality to protect edge providers from potential traffic discrimination in the FCC’s Open Internet Order, the FCC incidentally clawed back some privacy authority over Internet communications -- over the FTC’s strong objections.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2016-02-15 10:55
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Thu, 2016-02-11 15:56
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2016-02-08 22:45
Net neutrality absolutists are overreaching yet again in their push for a practical FCC ban of ISP zero rating offers under the FCC’s case-by-case “General Conduct Standard” review, by claiming violations of the “bright-line rules” in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
The problem here is that net neutrality absolutists, in exploiting the political pejorative power of the word ‘discrimination,’ have politically oversold their Title II net neutrality policy as “bright-line” ‘non-discrimination’ bans, implying no discrimination allowed, when Title II actually only bans “unjust and unreasonable discrimination.”
This is a distinction here with a huge difference; and it apparently is giving the net neutrality absolutists fits. They want to imagine that Title II prohibits their absolutist ‘no discrimination’ frame when it clearly does not.
They want to find a technical “gotcha” in every zero-rating or sponsored data offering, no matter how unreasonable their conclusion, so they can politically ask it be banned by the FCC under their concept of what a ‘no discrimination’ principle should be.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2016-02-03 18:51
In the next several weeks, expect the EC’s Competition Directorate to decide that Google is in fact dominant with >90% share of Internet search in Europe and that Google has abused its search dominance by biasing its own Shopping service over competitors. It also could formally charge Google for abuse of its search dominance in contractually tying Google Search and other search-driven apps like Maps, YouTube, etc. to Android to extend its search dominance to mobile search and to the operating system market where Android now owns >80% share.
In taking a most extreme and ultimately indefensible legal and PR position, that the EU antitrust case is “wrong as a matter of fact, law and economics,” Google has painted itself into a corner, PR-wise and politically, much more than many appreciate. Why?
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Fri, 2016-01-29 13:22
While the PR cover story of the FCC’s AllVid proposal may be about more consumer choice and competition to reduce the cost of cable set-top boxes, don’t be fooled.
In announcing it, the FCC Chairman admits there’s already consumer choice aplenty: “American consumers enjoy unprecedented choice in how they view entertainment, news and sports programming. You can pretty much watch what you want, where you want, when you want.”
And the AllVid proposal is not about saving consumers money.
If it were, the FCC would not be shunning the obvious, best and cheapest solution of replacing the need for a set-top box entirely, by modernly and naturally transitioning them to the sector norm of easily-downloadable, cheap/free apps.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2016-01-27 10:22
Square peg meet round hole.
The FCC is poised to try and force-fit inherently-irreconcilable, telephone closed-ecosystem privacy rules into a broadband open-system Internet. Good luck with that.
Expect the FCC to have fits trying to successfully craft workable, non-arbitrary, and legally-sustainable Title II broadband privacy rules in the year ahead.
It is a problem of the FCC’s own making.
In arbitrarily applying Title II telecommunications rules to only the ISP half of Internet communications, while politically exempting the entire edge half of Internet communications in its Open Internet order, the FCC has ensured that information that was proprietary and controllable in the closed telephone world becomes public and uncontrollable in the open Internet world.
Horses meet open barn door.
Net neutrality activists wrongly imagined that Title II was all-purpose-regulatory-authority to impose “the strongest possible” Open Internet rules they wanted, like bans on paid prioritization, zero rating or usage based pricing, despite decades of Title II and court precedents that determine many types of economic price discrimination and pricing flexibility to be just and reasonable.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Sun, 2016-01-24 21:33
Summary: Google Android’s >70% monopoly-size gross profit margins were made public for the first time when Android’s 2014 summary financials were disclosed in the Oracle v. Google copyright case (as evidence of Android’s commercial success to rebut Google’s claim that Android’s unauthorized use of Oracle’s Java APIs was “fair use” not commercial activity.) Combining this newly disclosed information with what we already know, Android likely generated a little less than a third of Alphabet’s 2015 revenues, but over a third of its 2015 gross profits. It is now clearer that the formal EU antitrust investigation of Android contractually tying Google’s dominant search to gain >80% share of the world’s smartphones will result in another EU Statement of Objections that could eclipse the current EU abuse of search dominance case in antitrust liability over time.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2016-01-20 18:32
Always be careful what you ask for, because you might get it.
Net neutrality absolutists demanded Title II regulation of the Internet in hopes of getting the “strongest possible” net neutrality rules.
They imagined Title II to be their ultimate tool and power to enforce whatever they want to redefine net neutrality to be, whenever they want to redefine it: e.g. no paid-prioritization, no zero rating offerings, no usage-based pricing, etc.
Never mind the nettlesome fact, that net neutrality, as a term, principle or concept, can’t be found in U.S. law.
And never mind the nettlesome Title II reality, that decades of FCC/court precedents have established that economic price discrimination can be, and often is, legally just and reasonable.
Net neutrality absolutists had to learn in Comcast v. FCC that the FCC could not enforce net neutrality without prior net neutrality rules.
They learned the FCC did not have the legal authority to ban commercially reasonable market behaviors in Verizon v. FCC.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2016-01-19 10:31
The EC’s Antitrust Chief, Margrethe Vestager, is signaling that some Big Data may be anticompetitive. She recently told a conference: "These incredible powerful tools, like search engines and social media, are available for free. In many cases, that's because we as consumers have a new currency that we can use to pay for them – our data. …If a company's use of data is so bad for competition that it outweighs the benefits, we may have to step in to restore a level playing field."
The issue of whether privacy/data protection violations can be anti-competitive in Google’s case is now especially ripe.