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Antitrust

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?

Google’s Chrome Ad Blocker Shows Why the Ungoverned Shouldn’t Govern Others

Alphabet-Google is an unregulated monopoly that currently is de facto regulating the entire digital advertising ecosystem – in part via its new Chrome ad-blocker.

With minimal government accountability, it’s no surprise Google apparently is exercising its monopoly power anticompetitively and coercively.  

Only an out-of-control, U.S. Internet policy could create such an upside-down situation where Internet platforms like Google are so ungoverned by the U.S. Government, that they are free to broadly govern other companies in coercive ways that even the U.S. Government legally can’t do.  

Congress needs to pass legislation that restores a fair playing field with equal online-offline accountability to the law. Current U.S. Internet policy and law in the 1996 Telecom Act effectively exempts only Internet platforms from: FCC communications law; Federal and State regulation; liability for consumer negligence; and normal U.S. sovereign governance.

Internet platforms, like Alphabet-Google, act like they are above the rules and outside the law, because they largely are.

What to Expect from the Simons-FTC

Summary

More change is coming to the FTC than most appreciate.

That’s because the FTC is in the process of an unprecedented, clean-slate leadership change, at the same time society is undergoing an extraordinary inflection point – the “techlash.”  

In a nutshell, the evidence to date shows the eventual Simons-FTC is on path to be a tough, bipartisan, populist, by-the-book, enforcer of antitrust and consumer protection laws. That would be in stark contrast to, the “laxter” enforcement and apparent Google-capture, of the 2012-2017 Ramirez-FTC, and the current, sidelined, no-quorum, Ohlhausen-FTC. 

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.

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.

The Solid Conservative Antitrust Case Against Alphabet-Google – My Daily Caller Op-ed

Please do not miss my latest Daily Caller op-ed: “BREAK UP GOOGLE: There Is A Solid Conservative Antitrust Case Against Alphabet-Google.”

 

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.”

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