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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.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2018 @ 9:43am

    What's good for thee is not good for me

    How ironic that the same industry working to tear down any form of regulation of itself is working just as hard to apply even harsher regulations on others.

    So... is regulation good or bad for the internet? I can't tell any more.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:03am

      Re: What's good for thee is not good for me

      So... is regulation good or bad

      The only sane answer to this question is "it depends on the regulation."

      Some regulations are good. Some regulations are bad.

      Absolutist positions like "regulation is bad" are for paint-eaters.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:11am

        Re: Re: What's good for thee is not good for me

        I suppose I should have elaborated. That was a reference to the ISPs' collective rhetoric against regulation as a whole when it applied to them but now seemingly in favor of it when it suits them. Their whole bogus "Don't regulate the internet" argument against the FCC rules was entirely absolutist but now, suddenly, regulation of other internet companies is good. It defies logic.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 4:47am

          Re: Re: Re: What's good for thee is not good for me

          Their whole bogus "Don't regulate the internet" argument against the FCC rules was entirely absolutist but now, suddenly, regulation of other internet companies is good. It defies logic.

          Not all all, it's perfectly consistent with the logic of 'we deserve as much money as we can get our hands on, and anything that might stand in our way is bad, whether that's competition or regulations that prevent us from 'innovating' new ways to get more money for less work.'

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

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:54am

      Re: What's good for thee is not good for me

      This is a win-win play for Content Company ISPs. They get us to argue that regulation of content on the Internet is anathema to American ideals, and then they get to turn around and proclaim "SEE?!?! We TOLD you that Net Neutrality was a bad thing" because they're constantly trying to conflate the Internet with the private Networks they operate.

      Access to the Internet is not the Internet. Content is not a utility, access is. Regulating access is not regulating content. The faster we split these companies into Access components and Content components, the faster we'll be able to actually improve price, availability, and clear consumers' rights for all Americans.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2018 @ 12:26pm

      Re: What's good for thee is not good for me

      How ironic that the same industry working to tear down any form of regulation of itself

      There are some local regulation that they want to keep, like any that help preserve their local monopolies.

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

    • identicon
      KL, 6 Nov 2018 @ 1:32pm

      Re: What's good for thee is not good for me

      It would be hilarious if the response was to stop making hardware capable of streaming all those private streaming services they love so much.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    ES Rever, 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:17am

    Too many adjectives reverses your propaganda.

    lumbering telecom monopolies

    One of minion's stock phrases with the now quaint "lumbering". -- But telecoms NEED to do lumbering because use lots of poles. I don't get minion's complaint.

    a massive, dysfunctional iceberg

    Verbose to contradiction. A "dysfunctional" iceberg logically wouldn't be problem or obstacle: it'd be water, so smooth sailing...

    Then two major admissions that support Powell's call for regulation:

    Silicon Valley's admitted and obvious naivete

    obvious that Silicon Valley has plenty of problems that need addressing

    Back to attempted pejorative:

    like getting fire safety advice from a serial arsonist.

    What's more wrong with that than the very common getting computer security advice from a "serial" hacker?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:42am

      Re: Too many adjectives saying you were gonna leave

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

    • icon
      stderric (profile), 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:49am

      Re: Too many adjectives reverses your propaganda.

      This is... beautiful. It's like Blue & Chip got together, converted to Discordianism, and are now writing collaborative Poe-etry. Hail Eris!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:52am

      Re: Too many adjectives reverses your propaganda.

      Today I learned that, suggesting the individual should be protected from predatory corporations is propaganda.

      In reference to protecting those who are less capable of self defense ... what is it about this that you consider to be biased, misleading or a political point of view?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2018 @ 12:20pm

        Re: Re: Too many adjectives reverses your propaganda.

        I, uh, I'm pretty sure that that post is tongue-in-cheek.

        Not even blue boy goes as far off-topic as misinterpreting "lumbering" for actual logging.

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

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:19am

    Good or Bad

    Obviously good regulations are good, bad regulations are bad.
    Anyone that says no regulations is ideal is some sort of shill.
    "Too many" regulations is harder to qualify - but odds are if you have too many, you have too many bad regulations.

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:43am

    Irony to the Extreme

    The telecom industry makes as much use of technology as those in 'Silicon Valley'. I would bet that much of the technology that the telecom industry uses comes from 'Silicon Valley'. Granted that what the telecom industry refers to as 'Silicon Valley' are in different businesses, now, but the telecom industry is most certainly moving in a direction that would directly compete with many things 'Silicon Valley' produces in terms of web based businesses.

    Which leaves us with whatever regulations telecom wish to instigate. How are they going to go about creating regulations that won't impact themselves as well? Unless those regulations name particular companies (from 'Silicon Valley' and how could that be legal?) there is no way to particularize the common things the new telecom/content industry from 'Silicon Valley' companies. To some degree both groups have their feet in the same pond.

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

  • identicon
    norahc, 6 Nov 2018 @ 10:57am

    TL;DR version, "It's only anti-competive when we're not the ones doing it."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2018 @ 12:07pm

    Lobbies

    "Lobby Lobby Lobby get your adverbs here"! -don't judge me; I need a Snickers.

    Lobbies? We don't need no stinkin' lobbies...we got dollars! What would happen if we boycotted online shopping this holiday season, and instead, told our senators/congressmen/ISP's that this local non-competitive ISP monopoly crap must end?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2018 @ 1:28pm

    When a serial rapist calls for harsher penalties for other serial rapists, it's possible to agree while simultaneously wishing for them to suffer the same fate.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 4:44am

      'Harsh regulations are great! ... for other people, not us.'

      Sure, but in this case the hypothetical first serial rapist is also arguing that they shouldn't suffer the harsher penalties(or any really) that they are insisting the others face, and it's just a wee bit difficult to take a hypocrite serious.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Nov 2018 @ 8:17pm

    "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."

    Imagine if a platform could zero rate their own content offerings while crippling the offerings that might be better form other players to dominate the market.
    Imagine a platform using usage caps to punish users who might want to access content we don't get paid for.

    "For years, big tech companies have been extinguishing competitive threats by buying or crushing promising new technologies just as they were emerging."

    THE VCR IS THE BOSTON STRANGLER!!!!!!!!!!!
    One-touch make ready is EVVVVVVVVVVVVVIL!!!!!!
    See the courts we bought agree, 1 provider is competition.
    How dare underserved, overbilled states build their own networks that cost a 1/3 of what we charge, without the addition of made up charges, and offering 5 times the speed without limits!!!!!!
    How dare they challenge our lock-in of communities to our service, we ran a wire outside & refuse to offer service but according to the rules we wrote into law that counts to lock any competition out.

    Dear Telco Lobbyist scum... DIAFIRL.

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


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