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US Internet Policy’s Anticompetitive Asymmetric Accountability - DOJ Filing

Note: this post summarizes a Precursor LLC presentation filing for the record of the U.S. DOJ Antitrust Division’s 3-14-18 Roundtable on Antitrust Exemptions & Immunities. See the presentation/filing here.

Presentation Title:

“A Market Divided: U.S. Internet Policy Creates Anticompetitive Asymmetric Accountability.”
Government exemptions and immunities overwhelmingly favor regulatory arbitrage over free market competition. Accountability arbitrage harms: consumer welfare; free market forces; the process of competition; and economic growth.

Executive Summary:

Unregulated Google Facebook Amazon Want Their Competitors Utility Regulated

Americans believe in equal accountability, that no one should be above rules or outside the law.

Then why are America’s only unaccountable network monopolies, Alphabet-Google, Facebook, and Amazon, calling for maximal accountability of utility-grade, network-neutrality regulation for their ISP competitors, but no accountability for their own apparent utility-like, monopoly distribution networks?

The Beginning of the End of America’s Bad “No Rules” Internet Policy

Americans strongly believe no one should be above the rules or outside the law.

This quintessential founding American value was importantly affirmed this week when the U.S. House of Representatives passed FOSTA, the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act,” with 94% support, (388-25) over the strong opposition of some members of the Internet Association. The Senate is expected to pass it in a few weeks, in a similarly overwhelming 90+% fashion. President Trump has indicated he would promptly sign it into law.

Simply, the new law would empower child victims of online sex trafficking to finally be able to sue in court to have websites that knowingly aided or abetted in their trafficking to be held civilly and criminally accountable for their crimes, if they are found guilty in a court of law under due process.

Think about it. What kind of law would require a new law to enable tens of thousands of child sex trafficking victims of unspeakable tortures to just have their rightful day in court to try and prove under due process that they have been illegally violated like any other American rightfully can in every other instance in court?

Something is profoundly wrong here.

Google’s Civilian Surveillance Data + A U.S. Military 5G Network = Bad Idea

 

SUMMARY

What could possibly go wrong with a nationalized, dual-use, military-civilian, secure 5G wireless network to centralize all military and civilian U.S. transportation traffic control and management with Alphabet-Google as the only commercial wireless ISP “financing/anchor tenant?” Way too much.

NetCompetition: Google & Softbank Are the Impetus Behind a Nationalized 5G Wireless Network

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 29, 2018, Contact: Scott Cleland 703-217-2407

 

The Primary Beneficiaries of America Nationalizing a 5G Wireless Information Highway Would Be: Google’s Monopoly Information Access, Android Mobile Operating System, & Google Maps/Waze; and SoftBank’s ~$60b holdings in China’s Alibaba & $100b Telecom/Tech Venture Fund

 

WASHINGTON D.C. – The following may be attributed to Scott Cleland, Chairman of NetCompetition:

 

“An analysis of the Axios-reported memo proposing to build a nationalized 5G wireless network makes it clear that Alphabet-Google and SoftBank are the moving force behind it. The proposal obviously would benefit their interests first and foremost and it goes in the exact direction they have lobbied for over the last several years.”

 

“It is especially ironic and troubling that Softbank and Alphabet-Google are the apparent impetus behind this proposal for a secure wireless transportation network to compete with China and be secure from Chinese snooping.

 

America Needs a Consumer-First Internet Policy, Not Tech-First

Internet users are the forgotten consumers.  

They have been forgotten for over twenty years because America’s Internet policy has been tech-first-consumer-last. 

Hiding in plain sight, U.S. Internet policy prioritizes what’s best for technologies and Internet companies over what’s best for people, because at core it assumed in 1996 and 1998 that whatever is good for Internet technologies and companies is good for Internet consumers.

For many years that appeared to be largely true. However, the cascading revelations this past year -- big societal, economic, and political problems caused by Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, etc. -- prove that core U.S. Internet policy assumption false.

Let’s contrast the Government’s protection of Internet companies with its protection of Internet consumers.

A Remedy for the Government-Sanctioned Monopolies: Google Facebook & Amazon

Only three online intermediary platforms command bottleneck distribution control of ~90% of online demand and ~90% of offline supply, with gatekeeper access-power over users and toll-keeper pricing-power over suppliers. They are: Google in information/data; Facebook in social sharing; and Amazon in commerce.

It is no coincidence that the all the monopolizations in the American marketplace today exclusively involve online intermediary platforms; and that they are happening in the only country in the world with a longstanding official, Internet-first industrial policy, that specifically advantages the intermedia companies with permanent blanket protection from competition, regulation, and liability.

How did Google, Facebook, and Amazon become de facto government-sanctioned monopolies?

Evidence Alphabet-Google Expects an Adverse EU Android Antitrust Remedy

This quarter EU antitrust authorities are expected to rule that Google is illegally dominant in the markets for licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system, because Google evidently abused its dominance by contractually requiring Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to install only Google search and make it the default search engine.

Importantly, this expected EU Android ruling occurs in the context of the EU’s seminal antitrust decision last June that: 1) ruled Google’s search services were dominant; 2) ruled Google abused that dominance by giving illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service; 3) fined Google a record $2.7b; 4) imposed a cease and desist order on Google to stop this illegal behavior in 90 days (or face additional fines of up to 5% of Alphabet’s revenues); and 5) imposed a remedy that requires that rival comparison shopping services get treatment equal to what Google provides itself, a requirement that Google apparently has not been respecting.

What this all suggests is that the next ruling, fines, and remedies that the EU will consider in the Android case, are likely to be more adverse to Alphabet-Google’s business and model than the previous one.

The U.S. Internet Isn’t a Free Market or Competitive It’s Industrial Policy

 

In 16 minutes I overview for you why there is a woefully incomplete understanding of the U.S. Internet’s three “Standard Oil-like” monopolizations (Google, Amazon, and Facebook) and the four cartelization dynamics these three monopolies have collectively spawned. I also spotlight why there is virtually no understanding of the root cause of these artificial and anticompetitive outcomes. Please see this link to a video (2:30-19:05) courtesy of The Capitol Forum and CQ’s Fourth Annual Tech, Media, and Telecom Competition Conference on December 13, 2017.

My remarks at this conference summarize and expand on my White paper entitled: “America’s Antitrust Enforcement Credibility Crisis: America’s three enduring intermedia monopolies and four market cartelizations are a result of lax, asymmetric antitrust law enforcement & America’s anticompetitive Internet-first industrial policy.”

Ad Hoc Neutrality Isn’t Neutral, It Is Discriminatory and Unfair

 

For a neutrality or non-discrimination principle to have legitimacy, it must be applied neutrally and non-discriminatorily itself, because everyone knows true neutrality means not taking sides.

Non-neutral application of a net neutrality policy takes sides and thus is discriminatory and unfair, the exact opposite of net neutrality’s purported purpose and the definition of its signature word.

Arguably, most all the controversies and conflicts over net neutrality for the last fifteen years have resulted from a supposed neutrality principle applied non-neutrally, to favor Internet intermediary distribution networks like Google, Amazon and Facebook, and cloud computing networks, like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, over legacy communications and content networks.

Today the FCC, in voting 3-2 for the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, is legitimately implementing net neutrality in a neutral fashion, i.e. treating similar information services similarly with the same light touch, under the same market transparency enforcement oversight at the FTC, and not taking sides by non-neutrally, picking winners and losers from the start.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths