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.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2017 @ 7:06am

    They aren't ignoring the complaint, they are just waiting for the download to finish on their Verizon FIOS Internet package. It's odd he would host it on a site that has such a slow download speed though...

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 11 Aug 2017 @ 7:16am

    "At one point, Verizon objected to his definition of “Verizon” and proposed its own definition."

    Bad case of split personality.

    "Your excellency, the definition of Verizon is not Verizon, it's MaBell. We are just trying our best to bring back the monopolistic, assholish behavior that got us split, you know, to solve the problem."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2017 @ 7:41am

      Re:

      Well...

      You support regulatory capture... the FCC has already made it clear that it intends to regulate these all as natural monopolies.

      this..
      "Your excellency, the definition of Verizon is not Verizon, it's MaBell. We are just trying our best to bring back the monopolistic, assholish behavior that got us split, you know, to solve the problem."

      should be
      "Your excellency, the definition of Verizon is not Verizon, it's MaBell. We are just trying our best to "buy" back the monopolistic, assholish politics that got us split, you know, to solve the problem."

      The ISP's have no need to pay attention to you, they just need to buy your representatives and regulators. They ARE quite cheap, I'm afraid....

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

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 11 Aug 2017 @ 8:50am

        Re: Re:

        "You support regulatory capture... the FCC has already made it clear that it intends to regulate these all as natural monopolies."

        Er, no? Regulating them as natural monopolies (which they are) is not regulatory capture. Regulatory capture is what the ISPs are doing in the states by making it impossible to have municipal broadband for instance. Or the one-touch approach to poles.

        As for the rest, yeah, agreed.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2017 @ 11:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Er, no? Regulating them as natural monopolies (which they are) is not regulatory capture."

          Then you and I have a different definition of regulator capture.

          Here is the general definition I follow.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture
          ---Regulatory capture is a form of government failure that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.[1] When regulatory capture occurs, the interests of firms or political groups are prioritized over the interests of the public, leading to a net loss to society as a whole. Government agencies suffering regulatory capture are called "captured agencies".---

          Are you making the case that what the paragraph states is NOT occurring right now? Additionally, the behavior of the FCC and Local Gov are a little different. Yes the FCC should put a stop to Local Gov interference but where are you going to find a few politicians with a spine and not in some telco's pocket.

          https://news.slashdot.org/story/17/08/11/1736202/almost-all-of-fccs-new-advisory-panel-works- for-telecoms

          How much more of this must go on before people wake up? A lot longer from the looks of things.

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

          • icon
            Ninja (profile), 11 Aug 2017 @ 1:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You are the one misunderstanding the term. What the CURRENT FCC is doing fits squarely in the definition. What the PAST FCC (under Wheeler) did was to start setting up a framework to prevent ISPs from abusing their monopolistic positions. The telco sector naturally hovers toward monopolies because the investment required to lay the infra-structure is pretty high.

            Either that or you are talking about the current FCC push to repeal any meaningful regulation leaving it to state laws bought and written by the ISPs and I'm talking about Title II which is NOT regulatory capture by a moon shot.

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

    • icon
      Ryunosuke (profile), 11 Aug 2017 @ 9:06am

      Verizon is pulling some SovCit shit.

      The Person, entity, individual, or settler known As Verizon:(Reference)

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

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 11 Aug 2017 @ 7:52am

    Wish someone could do the same to AT&T. AT&T makes Verizon look charitable, by comparison.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2017 @ 9:06am

      Re:

      I only dealt with Verizon on the cell front. It was high-priced but it worked so I had no complaints in that regard.

      ATT on the other hand!

      My mother passed away, the house had an alarm tethered to a landline and since no one was living there we left the alarm in place. I called ATT to have the landline transferred and I explicitly, loudly and clearly, there was no confusion asked them to remove WirePro. I was assured it was done.

      Next month, a $10 transfer fee (yes, they found a way to charge me for my mother dying) and didn't remove WirePro. I followed up, was assured I'd be credited for WirePro and the $!0.

      Next month, no credit and still WirePro.

      With no solutions from ATT I called the alarm co, had them switch it a cell connection and cancelled ATT. I had to sit and wait for several minutes to do this, can't do it online.

      Their final words to me, "are you aware that we offer tv"..... And, of course, my final bill included a charge for WirePro.

      And, goddamit, they offer the best cell service in the area, so I'm on a pay as you go plan with them. JEEZZUZ!!!!!!

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 11 Aug 2017 @ 8:10am

    Of course Pai's ignoring the complaint against Verizon. Isn't it natural that you wouldn't want to do anything to piss off your boss?

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Aug 2017 @ 7:13pm

    Once again proving to everyone who wishes SOMEONE would do something about a problem.

    Sometimes it just takes 1, so why not you?

    Sometimes you end up in an Internet Hate Group doing gods work with other people fighting against the evil.

    I remain...
    TAC - The IHG's token homosexual.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2017 @ 9:52pm

    The title of this story in itself is a very sad indication of how far the world is out of whack putting up with the greed lies and even murder at times dealing or should I say NOT dealing with these corporations. Title should read a NATION'S WAR..

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


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