One Man's War Against Verizon's Long History Of Lies, Anti-Competitive Behavior, And Nonsense
from the we-don't-have-to-care,-we're-the-phone-company dept
In the telecom market the trifecta of holy bullshit has long been AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. And while all three companies are painfully unethical, anti-competitive, and viciously anti-consumer, Verizon has long utilized a particular finesse as it works tirelessly to prevent its regional mono/duopoly from anything closely resembling actual competition. Many of these efforts have historically teetered on the comical, and you’ve likely forgotten most of them.
Remember when Verizon tried to ban Bluetooth, tethering, or competing GPS apps to force you to use their inferior and expensive services? Or when it launched a shitty tech news blog, but banned reporters from talking about surveillance or net neutrality? Or that time Verizon blocked all competing mobile payment services on its phones to prop up its poorly-named and executed ISIS mobile payment service? Or when it was busted covertly modifying user packets to track users without their permission? And who could ignore its frontal assault on net neutrality, and recent comical video denying it was doing anything of the sort?
Yeah, good times.
Impressively, one man has done some yeoman’s work for the rest of us and complied these and countless more examples of Verizon’s anti-competitive behavior into what’s the only real formal net neutrality complaint filed so far. It should be noted that there are tens of thousands of informal consumer net neutrality complaints (which the agency refuses to disclose because it might highlight how this is a real problem). But to file a formal complaint you need to pay $225, submit an ocean of paperwork, and kick off a long-train of procedural and legal fisticuffs most consumers simply don’t have time for.
But after doing a painstaking amount of homework, a man named Alex Nguyen did just that:
“Nguyen is a recent college graduate living in Santa Clara, California. And for much of 2015, he spent his time digging through years of Verizon’s public statements and actions, assembling more than 300 citations into a 112-page document that could well have been his master’s thesis. (In fact, he studied computer science.) The document catalogs a dozen questionable actions Verizon has taken since 2012, assembling a body of evidence in an attempt to prove that the carrier has violated a number of open internet protections.”
Not only that, Nguyen took the time to actually navigate the myriad of bullshit counter arguments Verizon put forth in trying to deny the fact that it is a well-documented anti-competitive ass. Some of them being, well, pretty comical:
“The complaint kicked off a back-and-forth process of objections, evidence discovery, and failed mediation to reach a resolution. Along the way, there have been some hilariously petty digressions, which Nguyen, untrained in the law, has handled patiently. At one point, Verizon objected to his definition of ?Verizon? and proposed its own definition. Nguyen then objected to Verizon?s objection, saying that Verizon ?copied my definition almost verbatim,? which, in fact, it had.”
“With Verizon it’s always, ‘We’re blocking these features as a fraud prevention tactic,’ or ‘It didn’t pass our certification requirement that we’re not gonna talk about,’ or ‘It didn’t pass these requirements that were never specified,'” he told The Verge. “There’s always this pattern of deception with Verizon.”
After countless arguments and counter arguments taking nearly a year, Nguyen’s complaint now sits in the lap of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, which needs to either rule on the complaint, or refuse and explain why. With the current FCC boss busy bumbling toward killing the rules entirely and clumsily trying to downplay the massive backlash to his proposal, it seems unlikely that Ajit Pai and pals would want to sanction his former employer publicly or in any meaningful way. So for now the name of the game at the FCC appears to be to ignore the complaint and hope nobody notices, something that just became more difficult courtesy of this week’s news coverage.