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Apparently Microsoft may not rejoin ItsOurNet after all... what I've learned

In my digging around to find out if Microsoft would be rejoining the ItsOurNet.com pro-net neutrality coalition, I have learned enough that strongly suggests to me that Microsoft may not be rejoining ItsOurNet now that the AT&T merger is complete.

Why I believe this is that I heard Microsoft is telling both sides behind-the-scenes -- the ItsOurNet crowd and the NetCompetition crowd -- the same story.

  • A Microsoft Rep is telling others that they are not for net neutrality, but that they do share some of the concerns that pro-net neutrality companies have.
  • More specifically, where Microsoft reportedly parts company with the ItsOurNet coalition is over the whether the modifiers "just" and "reasonable" are used in mandating non-discrimination by broadband carriers.  
    • Microsoft reportedly believes that there should be no "unjust" or "unreasonable" discrimination by broadband carriers, which is similar to the traditional seventy-year old common carrier language found in Sections 201 and 202.
    • The ItsOurNet coalition is taking the harder line that the non-discrimination requirement should be an unambiguous ban like the 11 year-old language found in Section 251(c)(3) that does not have any qualifiers like just or reasonable.
      • (It is important to note that the 251(c)(3) language that ItsOurNet is holding firm to get, is precisely the 1996 Telecom Act language that was most fought over at the FCC and in the courts -- and that ultimately had to involve the Supreme Court -- twice. The 251(c)(3) language proved to be some of the most controversial legal language and mandates ever in the history of telecom in the U.S.)  

This take on Microsoft's new position makes sense to me for three reasons.

What's happened to ItsOurNet's Website? Its been offline for about 5 days...

I often visit ItsOurNet.org to see if they have anything new. I also look to see if Microsoft has rejoined ItsOurNet like they said they would after the close of the AT&T merger. Well the AT&T merger closed a month ago and still no word from Microsoft.)

What is new and interesting is that the Itsournet.org official web site has been down since at least last Thursday and maybe longer -- meaning you can't even get to their previously public website -- without a user name and a password. It ominously says "authorization required." 

Is Google-Youtube a politically "neutral" gateway to Internet content and videos?

An article about Google's top lobbyist in the The Politico.com, a new media outlet that is dedicated to Politics, got me thinking about connecting-the-dots for Washington folks about the lack of Google-YouTube political "neutrality."   

  • There is an increasing body of evidence that Google may be less concerned about promoting a free, open and "democratic" Internet, and more concerned with promoting a regulated Internet for the benefit of "Democrats."

The Politico article noted: 

The attempt to intimidate Netcompetition's free speech continues

National Journal's Tech Daily recycled an old factually incorrect charge about Netcompetition.org in its article today on how grassroots groups are lobbying the Senate to omit themselves from the Senate's Ethics and lobbying law.  

I have asked National Journal for a correction for recycling the factually wrong assessment of Common Cause that Netcompetition.org is an "astroturf" grass roots group. 

  • I systematically refuted Common Cause's bogus report in August in my blog on Common Cause's report. It was a blatant attempt to intimidate free speech that backfired.
  • NetCompetition.org has always been fully disclosed that we are a forum representing the views of broadband companies. There is no secret here! No "astro-turfing" here.
  • NetCompetition.org is good old American free speech that Common Cause and its net neutrality supporters don't like and want to stamp out.
  • Its pathetic and unethical when people try and abuse the ethics and disclosure laws to single out people or groups whose speech they want to limit or discredit.

The offending excerpt of the Tech Daily article is below:

MyDD unabashedly using non-neutral "Googlebombs" to skew search/election

The hypocrisy of net neutrality supporters appears to have no bounds! The influential left wing MyDD blog of Chris Bowers is unabashedly setting out on a broad Internet to manipulate Google search results with their negative political take on John McCain. I need not say more. Just read the link above or see the excerpt I have posted below.

Today, I am proposing a long-term, anti-McCain googlebomb project similar to the Googlebomb the Elections campaign I founded in 2006. Read the extended entry for details.

Correction: Wrong first name transcribed in WSJ quote on Microsoft explorer post

In my recent blog post, "Why Microsoft's new Internet 7 explorer browser discriminates against small business" I mistakenly used the incorrect first name in my transcription of a Wall Street Journal quote. The quote should have been attributed to "Greg" Waldron (not "Gerry"), of the Waldron company http://thewaldroncompany.com/index.html.  Greg Waldron is founder of a company which is an online provider of water fountains. Precursorbog regrets the error.

NYT net neutrality editorial is devoid of any rigor or intellectual balance

The New York Times obviously felt compelled to write a counter editorial to the Wall Street Journal’s three recent blistering editorials against net neutrality.

The NYT apparently just dusted off their simplistic editorial of last year and updated it with a phone call to a person or two.

They are still rehashing the ignorant claim that broadband companies are trying to create a “two tiered Internet.� If the NYT had any awareness of this issue at all, they would know that argument is factually wrong and that informed NN proponents no longer try to make that silly and ignorant argument. The facts are that the Internet has long been multi-tiered. There is dial up Internet access tier and multiple speed/price tiers of broadband Internet access. The Internet backbone since its commercial inception has had three different tiers based on the reach of the peering network.

The editorial also trots out the nonsense that without net neutrality innovation would be threatened and small companies could not afford the fees and “the next eBay or Google might never be born.� Hello? Is it the new policy of the NYT that the government should subsidize “garage� entrepreneurs Internet access bills? Does the NYT think really think any entrepreneur worth their salt can’t afford or can’t raise funding to pay $15-40 a month for broadband access?

Blogilantes' Frankenstein AT&T-NN definition is no legislative template

Net neutrality proponents are trying to claim that the net neutrality conditions that they extorted from AT&T represent a template for net neutrality legislation. Ridiculous!

First, these conditions were extorted because of a procedural and political anomoly, not because of any consensus for them. On the contrary, Chairman Martin said the net neutrality conditions were "unnecessary" and "discriminatory." And a majority of the FCC opposes broadening these conditions to the industry at large.

Second, the merger conditions only apply to one of several U.S. broadband competitors, and the conditions are company specific and are not useful or accurate in applying to other technologies or companies. Moreover, it does not apply to AT&T's business customers, to its unique IPTV video service or its wireless service. It supposedly applies to WiMax, but AT&T is being forced to divest WiMax spectrum that the condition will not apply to. And is WiMax WiFi? Which alphabet version of WiMax does this condition supposedly apply to? There is no useful definition here. This is the blogilantes' "frankenstein definition" which is of no use to any fair legislative or judicial process.   

Third, the supreme irony here is that these conditions were alleged to promote non-discrimination but were applied in a highly discriminatory way to only one company in a perversion of the normal democratic process. 

Finally, those proponents that expect other companies to abide by the conditions that their competitor had to abide to because of an anomolous merger situation, are in dreamland. This is still a free country, there is still rule of law, it still takes a majority of the House, 60 votes in the Senate and the President's signature to change the law. The net neutrality blogilantes "will run into the buzzsaw" of the American constitutional process. 

FCC extortion of AT&T on Net neutrality was minimal, but horrible in other areas

The FCC conditions imposed on the AT&T-Bell-South merger are among the most regulatory government micro-management that I have observed in my fifteen years covering the industry.  The FCC minority leveraged a procedural and political anomolous circumstance to extort merger concessions that never would have survived an open democratic process. This was the functional equivalent of a back alley shake-down, where the companies had to give into unconscionable extortion in order to secure their commercial freedom.    

That being said, it is clear that AT&T had to give up a lot of regulatory concessions in the areas of special access and divestiture of 2.5 MHz spectrum in order to fend off the worst of the net neutrality extortion.

  • AT&T agreed to continue to abide by the FCC's net neutrality principles for another couple of years which simply extends the agreement they had already made on the SBC-AT&T merger last year for roughly a year longer.
  • They also agreed to not degrade or prioritize traffic, like they had already publicly agreed not to do, with exceptions for their IPTV business, enterprise business and their wireless business.
  • Bottom-line on net neutrality -- No big change here from what AT&T was already doing and pledging to do. AT&T appropriately resisted the worst of the net neutrality concessions.

I fully expect that net neutrality will remain the biggest regulatory issue going forward. The online giants will continue to manipulate the political process for competitive advantage, seeking to prevent non-neutral behavior from their biggest potential competitors when they are not neutral themselves and when they have more gatekeeper influence over the Internet than any broadband company. 

Microsoft's new Internet 7 explorer browser discriminates against small business

Microsoft is not neutral. Microsoft's new anti-phishing feature of its Internet Explorer 7 web browser blatantly discriminates against the 20.6 million sole proprietorships in the U.S.A in favor of their net neutrality allies: Google, Amazon, eBay and Yahoo and IAC.

  • Microsoft's new Explorer browser will be one of the most blatant non-neutral forms of Internet discrimination in the history of the Web, because when Microsoft rolls out this new browser with its Vista upgrade in 2007, the overwhelming majority of Americans will be using this new discriminatory Microsoft browser to supposedly gain "free and open" access the Internet.

The 12-19-06 Wall Street Journal article "Software to spot "Phishers" irks small concerns" is a must read to understand this problem. Kudos to the reporter, Riva

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths