Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Google-Verizon wedding cake is made of Swiss cheese

The number of holes in the Google-Verizon "lets be a bit naughty if not downright evil together" plan is quite extraordinary. Eric Schmidt always had something of the night about him and this appears to have his fingerprints all over it, not simply on the WashPost op-ed.
In short, it is a transparent cave-in by Google that makes Verizon into the equivalent of Ofcom - a competition-oriented watchdog on behalf of ISPs not consumers on this one. It is quite laughable that the two companies who do most to regulate East Coast Americans' wired and wireless Internet experience should make that US hairline distinction that: as we're not government (bad) but corporations (good), we're not regulators (bad) but consumer enablers (good).
By the by, as Vodafone owns a huge chunk of Verizon Wireless (the bit that makes real money), its no surprise that they kept well out of the way of the announcement yesterday but will be pouring honeyed words into European regulators' ears about how net neutrality is no longer a problem - for them.
An obvious outcome from yesterday is that when Google is dragged backwards through an antitrust investigation by the EC or DoJ, it will find no favours from civil society after this betrayal. James Grimmelman explains exactly how they are the smartest guys in the room. Al Franken has had a Twitter boost in opposing the deal.
Good luck, Google - you thought China was sticky in terms of political support, you'll find that was a storm in a delicate teacup.
UPDATE: FCC enforcement means in this context self-regulation with very minimal co-regulatory oversight, as Karl Bode explains:
"FCC should have no substantive power of any kind over broadband ISPs, with offenses instead overseen by what will ultimately be the industry itself: 'The FCC would enforce the consumer protection and nondiscrimination requirements through case-by-case adjudication, but would have no rule making authority with respect to those provisions. Parties would be encouraged to use non-governmental dispute resolution processes established by independent, widely recognized Internet community governance initiatives, and the FCC would be directed to give appropriate deference to decisions or advisory opinions of such groups.' In other words, the FCC would act as a show pony, whose authority in issues of enforcement would be superseded by groups created and run by the telecom industry. If you're new to telecom, "independent, widely recognized Internet community governance initiatives" is code for faux-regulatory agencies created by AT&T, Verizon and their massive lobbyist coalitions of hijacked political groups, paid policy mouthpieces and fake consumer advocates."

1 comment:

Rob Frieden said...

Chris,
As always an insightful blog, but given the smell I think the cheese is Limberger.