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Google's self-serving "innovation without permission"

Something that Alan Davidson, head of Google's Washington office, said at our NVTC net neutrality debate yesterday has been troubling me. He said Google believed in "innovation without permission."

While "innovation without permission" may be a useful mantra in encouraging Google folks from not getting bureaucratic and to "think outside the box" -- it's very troubling because it seems it is their public policy too.

I guess it means Google doesn't need any property owners' permission to innovate.

  • That must be why the publishers are suing them over digitizing their books without permission.
  • That must be why the newspapers are suing them for using their headlines and photos without permission.
  • That must be why trademark owners are suing them for using their trademarks for commercial purposes without permission. 

What a buzz kill to have to ASK for permission to innovate. Doesn't everyone understand that Google is just "liberating" that property for the common good and just earning a little commission along the way for their altruism? What's the harm in that? They are not "doing evil" are they?

Net neutrality is an online fundraising ploy masequerading as public policy

I launched the debate this morning at the NVTC forum on Net Neutrality with the following comment: "Net neutrality is an online fundraising ploy masequerading as public policy." It certainly focused the debate on the real reason why this issue has become so big so quickly. I pointed out that on substance it was a bogus issue. No substantiated problem or consumer harm and that all the substantive assertions made by net neutrality proponents have proven false. When the substance was so weak and the threat only theoretical, there had to be more going on.

I focused on the dirty little secret that partially-motivated many net neutrality proponents --which is how super-productive it is for groups that want to raise money online to scare people that there are boogymen that want to take the Internet away from them. Net neutrality has clearly become one of the most efficient ways to "shake the money tree."  

Alfred Kahn "A liberal Democrat's Caution on Net Neutrality"

Attached is a link to Alfred Kahn's (of Airline deregulation fame) views on Net neutrality. Thanks to PFF for posting this gem.

It's a very relevant read because Mr. Kahn considers himself: "a good liberal Democrat." He is also one of the most respected figures on the subject of regulation and de-regulation regardless of party or political persuasion.

Here are a couple of good quotes:

  • "competition is a far better protector of the interest of both consumers and content providers (think radio, television, motion pictures and the Internet) than government ownership or regulation"
  • "Why all the hysteria?" over net neutrality.

If Noam's right that the future of Internet is telecom-like regulation -- everyone should be very afraid

Read Eli Noam's recent FT editorial "TV regulation will become telecom regulation", becuase if he is right (and I don't think he is) you should be afraid for the future, very afraid.

I have always respected Professor Noam of the Columbia Business School even if I often don't agree with him. He is a rare person who sees this complex space as a whole and has clarity of thought. 

His basic point is that TV regulation will become to resemble telecom regulation more are and more. He concludes that "the present debate over net neutrality is a harbinger of more to come."  Â 

Net neutrality's "moving goalpost" on competition

I wanted to make sure folks did not miss a classic comment by a leading net neutrality proponent last week which shows their stubburn refusal to acknowledge the reality and "proof" of competition.

In Communications Daily last week in the lead article on the AT&T-Bell South merger was the following quote:

  • "Public Knowledge Pres. Gigi Sohn, another coalition member, said  AT&T should abide by conditions longer than proposed. Conditions should last until competition can be proven, which probably would be for "a very long time,' she said." [bold added for emphasis]

Until competition can be proven? Hello? Gigi you are obviously ignoring all the existing proof and playing the Washington game of "moving the goalposts." 

Search Peeping: Does Google value protecting American's privacy?

Robert Scoble of Naked Coversations fame (great book Robert! Thank you.) posted a very interesting 7 minute video of Google's Lobby on his widely read Scobleizer Blog:

  • "Here’s a silent video (I was shooting some “B Rollâ€? at Google the other day and thought it would make a fascinating video for you to watch). What is it? It’s the lobby of building 41 over at Google’s headquarters. It’s a little more than seven minutes long. What does it show? The cool screens where you can sit and watch random searches that are being done on Google right then."

After initial fascination like Scoble with reading real random searches as they were occurring, upon reflection I found it very troubling. Why its interesting is exactly why its troubling. It's interesting because none of us in the public domain ever get to see what anyone else is searching for at a specific point in time, because that is potentially very personal/private search information -- which I thought until now -- was supposed to be guarded as private information by Google. 

What's troubling is that if Google handles American's private information so cavalierly as to use it for perfomance art in public, what other private information are treating cavalierly that we don't know about? 

Is anyone else troubled that Google doesn't see anything wrong with "search peeping" or a public "search peep show?" What do privacy advocates think?

 

 Â 

Is Microsoft no longer a member of ItsOurNet? Trouble in paradise?

What's going on at ItsOurNet? 

On the ItsOurNet.org website under "The coalition" section, Microsoft is no longer on the list of: "These organizations support legislation to achieve net neutrality:"

Google, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo are still listed, what happened to Microsoft which was one of the five big companies bankrolling the effort?

  • Why no press release or blog about this interesting development? Cat got their tongue?

Could the organization be getting a little too radical, regulatory, government intrusive, or anti-market-forces for their taste?

AT&T merger: Subverting the will of Congress on net Neutrality is not the "public interest"

Net neutrality proponents love to wax eloquently about respecting the "principles of democracy and freedom' -- for others that is -- but not themselves, becuase that would interfere with accomplishing their agenda. Apparently, for many net neutrality proponents, the "ends justify the means." Â Ã‚ 

The Itsournet coalition is effectively "mugging" the AT&T-Bell South merger over net neutrality. They are pressuring the Democratic Commissioners to hold up the merger which has already been approved by the DOJ and all the states, over a "fifth net neutrality principle."

"Legislation favors socialism over capitalism" my FT letter to the editor on Lessig's Op Ed

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/fd88803c-6232-11db-af3e-0000779e2340.html

Legislation would favour socialism over capitalism

 By Scott Cleland

Published: October 23 2006 03:00 | Last updated: October 23 2006 03:00

From Mr Scott Cleland.

Sir, I have to challenge Lawrence Lessig's gross misrepresentation of net neutrality legislation in his article "Congress must keep broadband competition alive" (October 19).

Prof Lessig asserts that net neutrality legislation is "not a massive programme of regulation. Itis instead a very thin rule for broadband providers that forbids business models that favour scarcity over abundance".

First, the most draconian form of regulation possible is a ban. Second, Prof Lessig's vision of net neutrality is a "socialised internet" that would effectively outlaw capitalism for broadband in America. A fundamental incentive of capitalism is competitive differentiation and innovation which creates "scarcity" but also stimulates demand and growth. Under Prof Lessig's theory and logic, patents and trademarks should be outlawed because they "favour scarcity over abundance". That is their purpose, in order to encourage innovation, commerce and economic growth.

In sum, Prof Lessig's "very best network neutrality legislation" favours socialism over capitalism.

Scott Cleland,Chairman, NetCompetition.org(an e-forum on net neutrality funded by broadband companies),

McLean, VA 22102, US

NYT article cites allegation of Google discriminating against small websites/competitors

For those who truly believe in the principle of net neutrality, you may be troubled to read the New York Times article "We're Google. So sue us." The article provides an allegation of Google effectively blocking a small competitive search-engine/website. (Searchopolist Google's share of the sarch market is 50+% and rising steadily at the expense of faltering #2 Yahoo and fading fast #3 Microsoft.)

It will be interesting to hear what SavetheInterent, Common Cause, ItsOurNet, and the many other organizations that purport to support net neutrality on principle have to say about this. Let's see if net neutrality is truly a "principle" or just a political and competitive double standard as it unfortunately appears to be.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths