If You're Going To Accuse Telcos Of Antitrust Conspiracy, It Helps To Have Some Proof

from the just-saying dept

The Supreme Court has come out with a somewhat unsurprising ruling on a lawsuit filed against the Baby Bell telcos. The lawsuit claimed that the telcos violated antitrust law by failing to offer competing local phone service and internet access in the territories of the other Baby Bells, following the Telecom Act of 1996 that allowed them to do so. There have been many people who assumed that it suggested some sort of collusion between the firms not to go into each other's turf, but the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the telcos for the fairly easy to understand reason that there wasn't nearly enough evidence showing that there was any sort of conspiracy going on. In other words, there may have been collusion, but anyone bringing such a suit has the burden of actually proving it, rather than just insisting that there must have been collusion.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    elislider, May 21st, 2007 @ 7:32pm

    at least with the RIAA/MPAA cases, theres lots of proof that theyre full of shit. it just never gets to where it should be (the media)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2007 @ 8:12pm

    In other words, there may have been collusion, but anyone bringing such a suit has the burden of actually proving it, rather than just insisting that there must have been collusion.
    Yes, but as you know the burden of proof in a civil case is much lower than in a criminal case, requiring only a preponderance rather than the elimination of reasonable doubt. So, evidence of a clear pattern is often enough to prove a civil case even in the absence of a "smoking gun". As an example, a company that consistently refuses to hire any minorities can be held accountable simply on that pattern of behavior without there being any other "proof". Considering that, I'm kind of surprised by the outcome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2007 @ 8:44pm

    accusing a telco of antitrust is like throwing a pebble in the ocean. No matter where it lands.. your hitting water.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2007 @ 2:42am

    I guess it really is good to have friends in high places. From the article about the decision led by Justice Souter:
    The original district court decision also tossed out the complaint, but a federal appeals court ruled that the "parallel actions" of the Bells was enough to justify the lawsuit moving forward.

    "Lawful parallel conduct fails to bespeak unlawful agreement. It makes sense to say, therefore, that an allegation of parallel conduct and a bare assertion of conspiracy will not suffice," the court ruled.

    So it seems as if though the Supreme Court ruled that it was just a big old coincidence that the Bells all acted together in this manner. I wonder if they would apply the same logic to a case involving an alleged conspiracy if the accused actors were not large corporations ideologically aligned with the court majority.

    Consider this scenario: A group of armed persons burst into a bank and various members of the group do things like tie people up and so forth. Then they each go to a teller and order the teller to to fill a bag with money. After the bags are filled they all leave the bank at the same time but flee in different cars. During the robbery none of them speaks to each other. Later they are all apprehended boarding the same flight to the same South American destination with the stolen loot in their suitcases. Further investigation reveals that they all knew each other and had been seen together in public at various times and phone records indicated that then had been in contact with each other but none of the conversations had been recorded.

    Now according to Justice Souter's twisted logic these persons could not be convicted of conspiracy just on the evidence that they all knew each other and acted together in parallel. After all, it could have just been a big old coincidence. Somehow I suspect the court would flip-flop and suddenly toss out Souter's logic.

    Note also that this was not a unanimous decision and some of the justices did not buy the majority's logic here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This