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Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2006-11-13 10:19
While everyone is understandably focused onÃ‚ the changes in Congressional leadership on the Democratic side, arguably one of the most significant potential changes that directly affects the bottom lines of all Internet-related companies and the future of the Internet could be the ascension of Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) to be the Senate Minority Whip,Ã‚ because he isÃ‚ one of Congress' biggest proponents of ending the InternetÃ‚ Tax MoratoriumÃ‚ when it expires in 2007.
Why am I flagging this asÃ‚ potentially a very big deal for the Internet world?
First, Senator Alexander, a former Governor of Tennessee, disagrees with the bipartisan and RepublicanÃ‚ consensus of the last decade that the Internet is inter-state commerce and as such should not be subject to state and local taxes. Sen. Alexander has worked harder than just about anyone in Congress toÃ‚ authorize States and localities to tax the Internet. Why this matters is that any Washington insider knows that tax issues are generally negotiated at the Congressional leadership level and the interests and knowledge of particular leaders can have a very big impact on the policy outcome -- that's why they are leaders.Ã‚
Second, addingÃ‚ a new Senate leader, whose pet issue is to end the Internet Tax Moratorium, with the already combusible mix for the Internet of the Democratic takeover of Congress andÃ‚ Democratic support ofÃ‚ net neutrality, and one getsÃ‚ a potentially very volatile environment for future taxation and regulation of the Internet.Ã‚ Given the importance of the Internet and broadband to the U.S. economy, and that there is a wide open race for the White House in 2008, this is a potentially very bigÃ‚ deal indeed.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Fri, 2006-11-10 14:47
With power comes responsibility and with responsibility comes tough choices. Both Speaker-elect Pelosi and Majority Leader-elect Reid have pledged to "govern from the center." The operative word here is "govern." While net neutrality may have been a good "political" issue for the Democrats, it is not a good "governing issue" for them.
With control of Congress, the Democrats can now make policy and pass legislation, which means, very practically, that they have to live with the real world consequences of their legislative rhetoric and decisions -- because Wall Street, markets and voters are taking them very seriously.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Thu, 2006-11-09 14:03
Conventional wisdom among net neutrality proponents is that a new Democratic Congress is good for net neutrality. Proponents point to the fact that the Senate Commerce Committee vote was 11-11 and two of the Senators that voted Ã¢â‚¬Å“noÃ¢â‚¬? (Allen VA and Burns MT) were defeated in the election. They also point to the fact that Ed Markey, a big net neutrality supporter, is now Chairman of the Telecom Subcommittee the subcommittee that defeated his net neutrality amendment last year. They also point to the fact that Speaker-elect Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader elect Reid are also big net neutrality supporters. Those are the positives and they are real and significant, but are they enough?Ã‚ Ã‚
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2006-11-08 12:06
FCC Democratic Commissioner Copps editorial in the Washington Post, America's Internet Disconnect" is a very good guide to how theÃ‚ debate over communications policy and net neutrality will shift with DemocraticÃ‚ asendancyÃ‚ in Congress. Ã‚
I have the utmost respect for Commissioner Copps personally even though I generally disagree with his conclusions when we look at the same set of facts or analysis. It probably results from his greater trust in government than markets and my greate trust in markets than government.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2006-11-06 19:01
When financial types describe Google's growth juggernaut they routinely say that 99% of Google's revenues come from search advertising. Remarkably they have turned search advertising from nothing 8 years ago to a roughly $10 billion a year business. Truly extraordinary. But how did they do it? Through economic discrimination, the highest bidder wins. Basic market forces.
So what's my point? Google's entire business model is based on discriminating against websites -- what they say net neutrality is needed to prevent.Ã‚
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Fri, 2006-11-03 15:23
Please also make note of Chairman Martin's clever use of the word "neutrality" in his statement:
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Fri, 2006-11-03 13:25
Every now an then someone comes up with a new great analogy that really helps us get to the heart of a matter. Canadian Mark Goldberg's telecom trends blog really hit the nail on the head in this post.Ã‚
Let's go right to his analogy:
Before I worked at Videotron, I was in the food business Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we were a 'content producer' in the parlance of today's communications business. To reach our customers, we dealt with a distribution channel, in our case, grocery stores.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Thu, 2006-11-02 17:55
Newsweek's article "Diller Weaves a Web" is a very clear example of the gross competition double standard that tech companies are pursuing in asking for aÃ‚ "non-discrimination" principle to only apply to competitiveÃ‚ broadband companiesÃ‚ but not to themselves.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have any trouble with IAC pursuing this business model.Ã‚ Ã‚ IÃ‚ am only needling IACÃ‚ for its bald, self-serving hypocrisy of seeking to get the government to protect them from potentially "discriminatory" competition so they can freelyÃ‚ "discriminate"Ã‚ against the little guy website that ItsOurNet claims to be supporting.
Let's look at an interesting quote from the Newsweek article:
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2006-11-01 14:50
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.
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?
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2006-10-31 18:16
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 focusedÃ‚ the debate onÃ‚ the real reasonÃ‚ why this issue has become so big so quickly.Ã‚ I pointed out that on substance it was a bogus issue. No substantiated problem or consumer harm and that all the substantive assertions made byÃ‚ net neutrality proponents have proven false. When the substance was so weak andÃ‚ 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 onlineÃ‚ to scareÃ‚ people that there are boogymen that want to takeÃ‚ the Internet away from them. Net neutrality has clearly become one of the most efficient ways to "shake the money tree." Ã‚