Cable's Top Lobbyist Again Calls For Heavier Regulation Of Silicon Valley
from the glass-houses-and-all-that dept
After having just successfully convinced the Trump administration to neuter state and federal oversight of lumbering telecom monopolies, those same companies continue their unyielding call for greater regulation of Silicon Valley.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon’s attack on net neutrality rules was just the tip of a massive, dysfunctional iceberg. Those companies have also convinced the Trump administration to effectively neuter FCC authority over ISPs, and are in the process of trying to ban states from protecting consumers from wrongdoing as well (you know, for freedom or whatever). With neither competition nor even tepid meaningful oversight in place, the kind of bad behavior we’ve long seen from Comcast appears poised to only get worse.
At the same time, top lobbyists for the telecom industry continue to insist it’s Silicon Valley giants that are in need of massive regulation. You’re to ignore, of course, that these calls are coming just as giants like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast try to pivot more fully from broadband into online video and advertising, in direct competition with the companies’ they’re calling to have heavily regulated. Former FCC boss Mike Powell, now the cable industry’s top lobbyist over at the NCTA, has been leading this charge for much of the last year or two.
Powell was back last week at an industry event insisting once again that government needs to step in and start heavily regulating the companies Powell’s clients are trying to compete with:
“I think there is a fundamental underappreciation in policy circles about the extraordinary power of the platforms and the data that rides on these companies and value of that information both as a competitive advantage as a platform and the potential dangers to consumers. ?That has always been a naive concept and one that I think government was entirely inattentive to for too long, only to wake up in 2018 to realize there are some consequences that are not necessarily affirmative.”
Powell’s of course trying to play up Silicon Valley’s admitted and obvious naivete as it pertains to aiding the amplification of propaganda and racist drivel. But at the same time, of course, he’s happy to ignore all of the obvious problems caused by his own sector’s growing competition issues, which Powell will be happy to tell you don’t exist. In fact back in March Powell gave a very similar speech during which he effectively accused Silicon Valley of most of the things the telecom sector has been doing for years:
“Our governmental authorities need to get a handle on what kind of market power and harm flow from companies that have an unassailable hold on large pools of big data, which serve as barriers to entry, allowing them to dominate industries throughout the economy. For years, big tech companies have been extinguishing competitive threats by buying or crushing promising new technologies just as they were emerging. They dominate their core business, and rarely have to foreclose competition by buying their peers. Competition policy must scrutinize more rigorously deals that allow dominant platforms to kill competitive technologies in the cradle.”
While it’s obvious that Silicon Valley has plenty of problems that need addressing, listening to Powell’s advice (read: Comcast’s advice) on these subjects is like getting fire safety advice from a serial arsonist. But for whatever reason it’s advice that’s clearly resonating in the Trump administration, which pretty consistently has called for antitrust inquiries into major Silicon Valley giants while neutering most meaningful consumer protections (from privacy to net neutrality) governing some of the most clearly anti-competitive and unpopular companies in all of American industry.