If 'Big Tech' Is a Huge Antitrust Problem, Why Are We Ignoring Telecom?

from the ill-communication dept

Over the last week or so, Google, Amazon, and Apple have all taken a significant beating on Wall Street amidst rumblings of looming antitrust investigations by the DOJ and FTC. Google, we're told, is subject of a looming antitrust probe by the DOJ. Amazon, we've learned, is facing growing scrutiny from the FTC. Apple stock also did a nose dive on the news that it too may soon be subject to a significant new antitrust probe.

On its surface, many of these actions aren't all that surprising. After all, experts have noted for a decade than US antitrust enforcement has grown toothless and frail, and our definitions of monopoly power need updating in the Amazon era. Facebook's repeated face plants on privacy (and basic transparency and integrity) have only added fuel to the fire amidst calls to regulate "big tech."

Oddly missing from coverage from these probes is the fact that much of this behavior by the Trump administration may (*gasp*) not be driven by a genuine interest in protecting markets and consumer welfare. For one, it's hard to believe that an administration that has shown it's little more than a rubber stamp for sectors like telecom is seriously worried about monopoly power. Two, it's hard to believe an administration obsessed with nonexistent censorship is going to come at these inquiries with integrity, and not, say, as a vessel to pursue a pointed partisan persecution complex.

I've been arguing for a while that while many of the calls to regulate big tech are driven by genuine worries about monopoly power, a lot of it is being driven by the telecom sector. For years now, telecom lobbyists and policy folks have been using the anger over Facebook to covertly call for heavier regulation of Silicon Valley. You see, these telecom lobbyists, who just got done convincing the Trump administration to neuter FCC oversight of their own natural monopolies, are looking for any advantage they can get as they try to compete with companies like Google in the online ad space.

This is how former FCC boss turned cable lobbyist Michael Powell put it at a recent conference:

"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."

If you've watched as telecom giants have crushed every and any competitive threat by buying state and federal government, this entire paragraph should be fairly amusing to you. Powell's clients couldn't care less about anti-competitive behavior. What they do want is, again, for government to erect regulatory barriers that hamper the Silicon Valley companies whose ad revenues giants like AT&T and Comcast have drooled over for the better part of the last fifteen years. In the Trump administration they've finally found a vessel for this agenda.

The problem, of course, is there's enough legitimate bipartisan worry about the power of big tech that this little telecom sector lobbying gambit has been able to fly under the radar as the real driver of this new Trump administration push. Even with former Verizon lawyers now at the head of the DOJ (Bill Barr) and the Trump FCC (Ajit Pai). But there's a reason the Trump administration ignores telecom's monopoly and privacy issues while amplifying Silicon Valley's, and I'd argue it has a lot more to do with protectionism than a genuine worry about healthy markets.

If you were remotely serious about addressing the US' monopoly and antitrust problems, there's no way you'd simply ignore telecom. Giants like AT&T and Comcast already enjoy natural monopolies over the on ramp to the internet. They've then increasingly hoovered up countless media companies as they also position themselves to dominate the media flowing over those connections. This conflict and the potential for anticompetitive behavior sits at the heart of the net neutrality debate. Now, giants like AT&T want to become the next Google, with data harvesting plans every bit as problematic if not more so.

Yet again, notice how telecom gets a free pass by the Trump administration? Notice how Silicon Valley is demonized, but telecom's surveillance and anti-competitive gambits see zero backlash? I don't think it's happenstance that this new Trump "big tech" antitrust push comes as big telecom has asked for just such a push to aid its own competitive agenda. A lot of folks on both sides of the political aisle who'd like to see more done to rein in "big tech" seem a touch oblivious to the possibility that this new antitrust push may not be entirely in good faith.

There's a good chance these antitrust inquiries into Google, Facebook, and Apple are little more than partisan fever dreams co-driven by telecom lobbyists, yet a lot of outlets and experts are acting as if market health and consumer welfare are genuine motivators. It's entirely unclear what the Trump administration did to suddenly earn this blanket trust, but as the net neutrality fracas and trade wars have made pretty clear, it sure as hell isn't its several year track record on coherent tech policy.

Filed Under: antitrust, broadband, competition, doj, ftc, monopoly, telcos
Companies: amazon, apple, facebook, google


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 6:37am

    Just this morning, I looked up an item at Amazon, and yet, placed an order through a competitor because it was cheaper.

    Don't want an iPhone.... Samsung actually makes some pretty good gear too.

    Don't want to use Google for search or email or anything? Use DuckDuckGo and Mail.com and install an ad blocker and whitelist everything but big G.

    Need to sign up for an ISP not called Comcast? To F** Bad! They are, despite me living in large city, my ONLY option. And somehow THEY'RE the ones not violating any antitrust rules.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 6:42am

    Because the telecoms have learned the proper way to bow and scrape (and the right people and amounts of money to contribute), where Big Tech doesn't kowtow properly and pretend to play along with the politicians' demands.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 6:43am

    If 'Big Tech' Is a Huge Antitrust Problem, Why Are We Ignoring Telecom?

    Telcom (ie telephone companies) does not have to control what people say on the telephone. That is telecom has not traditionally had the ability to control people's thought.

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

  4. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 6:48am

    On its surface, many of these actions aren't all that surprising. After all, experts have noted for a decade than US antitrust enforcement has grown toothless and frail,

    A decade? I think the first time I personally heard complaints about this was in the late 90s, over 20 years ago, and they were describing it as a "long-standing" problem.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 6:52am

    Big tech has been blacklisting too many people and businesses, and using its leverage to extend its influence into unrelated industries, while the telcos are just jacking up prices.

    Paypal and the credit-card companies should also be looked at as they have direct power over e-commerce, while cell carriers do not. The broadband ISPs generally aren't banning anyone, but if they were, they should be included.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 6:57am

    Re:

    I take it you don't remember AOL's curated web experience?

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

  7. icon
    limbodog (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:02am

    Every time Senator Warren tweets/posts about this I ask that

    Comcast et al would be a much more appropriate starting point.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:02am

    Why Are We Ignoring Telecom?

    Why? Selective enforcement. Even when, by some miracle, antitrust laws are occasionally enforced, it is often only temporary or with no real teeth. Witness AT&T reassembling itself after being broken up. The temporary breakup was actually instrumental in having numerous regulatory restrictions on them lifted and now they are even better off than before. What a deal.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:15am

    Re: Why Are We Ignoring Telecom?

    Judge: Why did you break the law?

    Defendant: Well, your Honor, I was hoping for an AT&T deal. You know, where you separate me from the rest of my family for little while, then make me above the law in the future and I come out rich and reunite with my family. Is that too much to ask?

    Judge: Depends on who you are.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:19am

    Re:

    As far as "when it all started" could be pointed to 1979 in the UK and 1981 in the US, when Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan came to power. In addition to their fame as union-busters who bestowed huge tax cuts to the rich, both Thatcher and Reagan were ideologically committed to dismantling anti-trust government regulation that had been in place for many decades, the bulk of it enacted in the 1890s and the 1930s.

    People didn't call the 1980s The Decade of Greed for nothing.

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

  11. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:20am

    Wrong Question

    Actually there are two questions that come in a progression. The first would be which of the three remaining telecom companies will be the one (by which I mean the one remaining when the other two have been consumed)?

    And that question leads into the other, which company will be the one (by which I mean which company will consume all the other remaining companies in the world (as in all restaurants are Taco Bell))?

    I can remember a time when we thought the answer to that second question would be IBM. Shifting sands, I guess. Facebook, Google, some startup that hasn't been conceived of yet (one that wouldn't be subsumed by some threatened giant before they get their feet wet)?

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:21am

    We?

    If 'Big Tech' Is a Huge Antitrust Problem, Why Are We Ignoring Telecom?

    Who is this "we" you speak of? It certainly doesn't include me.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:30am

    Re: Wrong Question

    And that question leads into the other, which company will be the one (by which I mean which company will consume all the other remaining companies in the world (as in all restaurants are Taco Bell))?

    That question really depends on whether GE is able to acquire and consume Disney, or if it will be the other way around.

    Right now I'm rooting for injuries, but expecting Disney will win.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:35am

    big telecom is paying more to the politicians etc than the others! just like the entertainment industries are doing the same in order to be able to get old laws updated and new laws introduced that protects them for 1 thing and is giving them more and more control of the Internet for another!

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

  15. icon
    Berenerd (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 8:00am

    Re:

    "The broadband ISPs generally aren't banning anyone, but if they were, they should be included."

    Technically, they are trying to. Bandwidth limits and pricing out those people of lower income brackets and choosing not to follow up on promises made to expand their networks and instead falsify things, this is constituted as blocking.

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 8:07am

    Re: Re:

    That's still a pricing issue, not a censorship issue.

    People are priced out of the legal system and no one cares. Same for medical, education, housing, and many things even more tied to survival (and thriving) than telco.

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re:

    Reagan and Thatcher both came to power after the NYC bailouts of 1975 gave liberalism a bad name. Those bailouts resulted from a meeting of world leaders where the other leaders were told that Ford had told the city to "drop dead." Ford then changed his mind. Interestingly, Ed Koch stood up to the unions (11-day MTA strike in 1980) and got NYC out from under the oversight, their credit rating restored, and the city never looked back.

    Before Reagan we had thirteen percent inflation and incredible union bloat.

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    Twitter and Facebook also do not have that ability either, they can just limit what you say on their platforms. Unlike the telcos, they are not in a position to control who you connect to, and hinder your ability to connect. The telcos can and do hinder your ability connect to sites that compete with some part of their business by using data caps, or intentionally creating congestion where their service enters their networks..

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

  19. icon
    PaulT (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 8:41am

    Re:

    "Telcom (ie telephone companies) does not have to control what people say on the telephone"

    People don't have their lines restricted, blocked from dialling certain numbers etc. in your world?

    "That is telecom has not traditionally had the ability to control people's thought."

    Unless it stands to make them money, then they'll let anybody contract you to try and sell you something, even if you're specifically asked them not to do that.

    But, hey, if you're weak minded enough to be controlled by what you read on a webiste you choose to visit, that's on you.

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

  20. icon
    Gary (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 8:42am

    Obviously

    Because Spectrum can't monitor every website I go to, slow the services they don't like, use my metadata to sell targeted adds, block voip or VPN services they don't like, and I have several other ISP's to choose from.

    Oh wait - none of that is true! They have an unshakable monopoly over my internet and have shown they are willing to block, throttle and upcharge in the past.

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

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    There is no censorship issue. If you act like an asshole and violate the terms of use for the platform you're acting out on you can expect to get a time-out. That's just common sense.

    Any of those who have been blocked on Twitter, Facebook and others acting the same way in any other private venue (and all of those platforms are private enterprise) would be kicked out of those, too.

    I expect absolutely nothing but a huge waste of our tax dollars to come out of this whole antitrust investigation.

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

  22. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Richard Bennett, 4 Jun 2019 @ 9:02am

    I don't see a problem.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re:

    What does AOL have to do with anything? They weren't a telco, they were one of hundreds of BBSes/ISPs people could choose to dial.

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

  24. identicon
    Slow Joe Crow, 4 Jun 2019 @ 9:22am

    Because, septuagenarian Congress critters who have had their snouts buried in AT&T and Verizon's trough for decades can't imagine biting the hand that feeds them and can't understand Google and Facebook so they do what their lobbyist patrons tell them to get face time on TV and dollars in their reelection fund. Or to put it another way, social media companies don't own enough Congress critters and Verizon owns the FCC

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

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Telecom" is generally short for "telecommunications," not "telephone companies" (although telephone companies would fall under telecom) and AOL and other ISPs would certainly be considered telecom. Especially when you include Time Warner Cable, which was part of AOL's holdings when they were offering a curated web experience.

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

  26. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There is no censorship issue. If you act like an asshole and violate the terms of use ...

    and don't forget that saying things like "men are not women" is now considered hate speech and will get you banned on Twitter. It's not censorship, it's all about fighting hate.

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/43349/twitter-bans-feminist-writer-who-said-men-are-not-james-b arrett

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

  27. icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    If you want to talk about telephone companies, I'm right there with you. They're common carrier services prohibited by Title II from interfering with the content of their customers' communication. Makes sense, right?

    But Telecom also refers to telecommunication companies, ie ISPs who have somehow wriggled out of any oversight whatsoever, who can and absolutely have prioritized and replaced customers' content.

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

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There is no censorship issue. If you act like an asshole and violate the terms of use for the platform you're acting out on you can expect to get a time-out. That's just common sense.
    Any of those who have been blocked on Twitter, Facebook and others acting the same way in any other private venue (and all of those platforms are private enterprise) would be kicked out of those, too.
    I expect absolutely nothing but a huge waste of our tax dollars to come out of this whole antitrust investigation.

    Except those terms are subjectively defined and subjectively enforced in ways that many consider left-leaning, which actually shows why we do have a "censorship problem." Perfectly legal speech is being silenced in what is approaching the level of a public square.

    My proposed rule is simple: if you are a federal contractor (or qualified subcontractor), you are treated as a common carrier. Want to be free to censor anyone? Don't do business with the government.

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

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    AOL did offer one of those phone services.
    I do not remember details, maybe it was long distance only.

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

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re:

    As far as "when it all started"

    It started long before that.

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

  31. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:37am

    All right! Another winner from Karl "OMG-Look-Over-There!" Bode!

    Telecoms are subject to massive, Byzantine frameworks of regulation that non-telecom business don't deal with. You may argue that the regulation isn't as effective as you'd like it to be, or that it's misguided and does not lead to outcomes that you'd prefer, but don't disingenuously pretend that Google et. al. are being unfairly singled out for scrutiny while telecoms get to traipse around without a care in the world.

    You (or rather, your pals at Facebook) are going to have to accept that the tech giants will someday have to contend with their own network of overbearing (and ultimately pointless) regulation -- beyond the kid stuff they're currently subject to. What, do you suppose that social media would somehow be the ONE major industry that isn't a rats' nest of regulatory tripwires? It's all part of growing up, I'm afraid.

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

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Seriously?
    Is that what you are upset about?

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

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Being "silenced" on a platform owned and operated by a private business is not at all similar to being silenced in a public square.

    Have you written your representatives to let them in on your proposed rule? If so, what did they say?

    What is it about being a federal contractor? What is it about a qualified subcontractor, whatever that means.

    Why should a contractor, lets say Joe the Plumber, be considered a common carrier?

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

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    "Telecoms are subject to massive, Byzantine frameworks of regulation that non-telecom business don't deal with"

    • And?

    "but don't disingenuously pretend that Google et. al. are being unfairly singled out for scrutiny while telecoms get to traipse around without a care in the world."

    • Why not?

    "What, do you suppose that social media would somehow be the ONE major industry that isn't a rats' nest of regulatory tripwires?"

    • Where did you get that idea?

    "It's all part of growing up, I'm afraid."

    • Let us know how that is going for you.

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

  35. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Wrong Question

    Definitely not GE (General Electric). They took a pounding recently and have barely been able to hobble themselves over to Boston and try to set up in a tech hub to rebuild their brand.

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

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Context is everything here, and Twitter does a pretty good job of grokking context, whereas Daily Wire does a good job of creating a clickable story to sell ads based on a single tweet that was part of a larger narrative.

    And Twitter is doing nothing to prevent a third party from coming up with their own Internet-based short message broadcast system. If people don't like them, go somewhere else.

    Can't say that about ISPs, because there is nowhere else.

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

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    approaching the level of a public square

    So like... one bucket drummer, three guys handing out religious pamphlets, and a boring annual jazz festival?

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

  38. identicon
    Semi-anonymous coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 11:35am

    Well the reason is simple. The telecom sector mastered the dark art of regulatory capture long ago. They just got more politicians in their pockets than anyone else. Enough so for them to write their own laws and get them to pass too. How can anyone ever find them in violationhold them accountable?

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

  39. icon
    Thad (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 12:15pm

    Re:

    The US's approach to antitrust has been "don't worry about it unless prices get too high" since the Reagan Administration.

    More recent adminstrations have dropped that last part.

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

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And Twitter is doing nothing to prevent a third party from coming up with their own Internet-based short message broadcast system.

    Except perhaps whispering in the ears of PayPal, Stripe, and other payment processors to "deplatform" any emerging Twitter competitors like Gab (same with emerging YouTube competitors like BitChute). While no hard proof has ever emerged that the Silicon Valley tech giants are actively colluding with each other to choke out their 'unwoke'/free-speech competition, the timing of such actions alone would suggest that something sinister is indeed happening behind the scenes. A federal anti-trust investigation could do a lot to resolve this question, and the sooner the better.

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

  41. identicon
    TruthHurts, 4 Jun 2019 @ 12:36pm

    Big difference between big-tech and big-telecom...

    There's one HUGE difference between big tech, one that, for anyone with more than 2 brain cells to rub together would immediately make monopolistic charges against big-tech invalid.

    Here's the difference.

    Big-Tech - Big-Tech (Google, Facebook) only get big because of the number of people who choose to use BTCorp. (Big-Tech Corporation) - Want Big-Tech to get smaller, simply stop using their sites and services. If enough people choose to do the same, BTCorp becomes STCorp(Small) or ETCorp (Extinct).
    In other words, we the people, control the fate of Big-Tech.

    Big-Telecom - For the most part, they've got a monopoly in part because of locked in contracts with towns, cities, villages, whatnot. Nobody else can offer equivalent services to those locations. The same holds true with Cellular in that only the big corps can afford to purchase the spectrum needed to provide cellular communications. That makes it an FCC mandated monopoly. That leaves consumers little to no choice for products and services.

    The only one of the two that is truly a monopoly, is Big-Telecom.
    And we the people have no say in that.

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

  42. identicon
    TruthHurts, 4 Jun 2019 @ 12:46pm

    Re:

    Uh... Have you been sleeping under a rock?
    You only think big-telecom has a ton of regulation, when in actuality, the only regulations that apply to big-telecom are the ones that big-telecom wrote and were rubber-stamped by the FCC and congress.

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

  43. identicon
    observer, 4 Jun 2019 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think you're a bit confused there. Reagan and Thatcher were market liberals - that was kind of their whole deal.

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

  44. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Big difference between big-tech and big-telecom...

    That's in the US. In the EU they sure are fighting over for customers.

    Right now I could pick around 5-7 telecoms, including local ones. And maybe even more I don't know of.

    In rural areas, there is this kind of "Public Service Contract" conditions imposed on major telecoms, that they have to supply them with specific conditions if they want contracts in major cities.

    Still, there aren't as many options as in decent sized cities.

    Still, why telecoms not and techies yes?

    Well, my answer if I was in the US would be along the lines of "and what makes you think that I don't want to grab those telecoms and spank their asses the same as I do (or want to do) with Big Tech?".

    They might like it, though.

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

  45. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 3:37pm

    Because the internet is just a fad & those nice Telco donation checks always clear.

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

  46. icon
    ECA (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 4:31pm

    REALLY.

    Many of you have been around long enough to know the history of these companies as well as the fights they have had..
    We could add the RIAA/MPAA and them scaring and sueing anyone with 2 cents, and killing off anything that Looked like it might work, and Probably WOULD HAVE, IF those 2 had Backed 1 of those Internet startups. And made a HELL of allot more royalties then they are now,.
    HOw many battles, of compuserve, and 3 other companies? Egghead=NewEgg..EBAY+Paypal.. Anyone that could get a Foot into this, TRIED and many Died..mostly because of competition and the Big money chasing to step on them.
    Even now, CHINA is going internet direct. Amazon is a front for many companies and so are a Bunch of other sites(buyer beware).
    The fight is still happening.(newegg seems alittle lost).
    So WHo is complaining??
    2 groups.
    the ISP's whow cant figure and do the same things, because they DONT have the mentality to figure it out..
    The BIG MEGA CORPS (7?) that control REAL life goods and Brick and mort Stores..Many stores are dying..They Cant compete.

    We Actually have CHOICE..but Again, Buyer Beware!..
    There is something missing. you Cant go out and Look at the product BEFORE you buy it, you cant test, or handle it...and after you get it, can you return it?? And can you do this, TODAY...not in 3 days or 1 week, or longer..

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

  47. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 4:35pm

    Seems pretty obvious to me

    Why? Because if I don't want to use Facebook or Google I'm out of luck as they're the only options available in my area and not using them means I can't use or access any of the other online companies, whereas if I don't like my ISP I can simply and easily switch to one of the many alternatives available, or stop using my current one without any real impact on my life.

    Given the sharp difference between the two it's pretty clear which are a bigger threat, and it's definitely not the ISPs.

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

  48. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Every time Senator Warren tweets/posts about this I ask that

    In that you ask them on Twitter, or did you mean more in general? Because I'd love to see her response to that, if only to see what I expect would be a lightning quick changing of the subject or some good old fashioned special pleading.

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

  49. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 5:48pm

    Re:

    plus they seel ALL your info to interested government groups.. Bill of Rights be damned

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

  50. icon
    ECA (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 7:56pm

    Re: Seems pretty obvious to me

    you can swap ISP, but cant change your Social network???
    the problem with them is EVERYONE ELSe is on there...not that i cant change.
    there are other trypes/ways to create a network, including Gaming Chat progs..Discord, and others..

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

  51. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:07pm

    Got another one

    You may want to read my comment again, and/or get your sarcasm meter checked.

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

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:30pm

    Re: Got another one

    Well, the reality is that social networks rely on some kind of "social monopoly".

    That is, if everyone and their mother uses them, you either use them too or you're out of the loop.

    To educated people that would give a fuck about idiots that stop being their friends just because they aren't on the latest trend it's not much of a problem not being in a social network, because we usually end up choosing our friends based on not being as stupid as that.

    But that doesn't happen with your average teen. Or normie. They will stick faithfully to X social network harder than a fanatic will stick to his holy book.

    Of course, that's not the tech company's fault. But such are the results.

    I remember my brother once telling me about Google monopoly and whatnot.

    I told him, sure, Google has a defacto monopoly. You can't deny that. But they have that because they were the only fucking company that bothered to give their customers what they wanted when they wanted it.

    Those who remember how gmail and hotmail were 15-20 years ago, not sure of the specific date, know what I'm talking about. I went from ad ridden mail service to a clean screen, with lots of space to use.

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

  53. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2019 @ 10:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Then go to a place that THINKS EXACTLY LIKE YOU.

    Ilike your congress for example they do it all the time.

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

  54. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 2:48am

    Re: Re:

    "But Telecom also refers to telecommunication companies, ie ISPs who have somehow wriggled out of any oversight whatsoever, who can and absolutely have prioritized and replaced customers' content."

    Which incidentally also means those ISP's manage to break the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA and leaves them wide open to any passing copyright troll with a grudge - see the Cox case for a good example there. A rare case of two wrongs delivering one right.

    US ISP's who tinker with their client's communications are playing with fire. They could play it safe and cling to common carrier provisions but too damn few have the moral courage to do so.

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

  55. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 2:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Reagan and Thatcher both came to power after the NYC bailouts of 1975 gave liberalism a bad name. "

    Reagan and Thatcher WERE liberals. What should have been given a bad name after the NYC bailouts was the nigh-feudal power structure which spent so much effort trying to rescue the falling house of cards.

    I'm still confused over the way americans, especially self-confessed "conservatives" keep trying to redefine the political dictionary.

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

  56. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 2:58am

    Re:

    "Big tech has been blacklisting too many people and businesses, and using its leverage to extend its influence into unrelated industries, while the telcos are just jacking up prices."

    Strange. because "big tech" isn't in position to blacklist anyone, really.

    Nor are they using "leverage". The closest you get to that paradigm would be Oracle with it's lock-in contracts, but even microsoft has opened up after the latest slew of lawsuits.

    I think you need to offer some specifics because right now you're just channeling the resident troll in his nebulous implications that "big tech" - whatever that is - is a scourge and a plague upon the free world.

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

  57. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Got another one

    *"I told him, sure, Google has a defacto monopoly. You can't deny that. But they have that because they were the only fucking company that bothered to give their customers what they wanted when they wanted it.

    Those who remember how gmail and hotmail were 15-20 years ago, not sure of the specific date, know what I'm talking about. I went from ad ridden mail service to a clean screen, with lots of space to use."*

    How about; Search engine which actually works without demanding you install some fiendish purple monkey named Bonzi and unlike the previous alternative doesn't just display results paid for by ad companies?

    Open source software for everything from running servers to running mobile phones?

    Google is popular and is into everything mainly because they spent the first fifteen years building solutions to issues people were having - and giving those away for public use.

    Sure, today Google is increasingly monetizing everything but the main reason it's considered a prime target for obsolete and inept market has-beens is sheer envy because google had the unrepentant gall to deliver solutions for free which someone else could have locked in as a monopoly cash cow - if they'd had the techs to make it work, that is.

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

  58. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Telecom" is generally short for "telecommunications,"

    And "telecommunications" is short for "telephonic communications", which means "communications by means of telephone".

    AOL and other ISPs would certainly be considered telecom.

    No, they would not.

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

  59. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re:

    Unlike the telcos, they are not in a position to control who you connect to,

    So, I can "connect", as you put it, to someone who does their public communicating solely on Facebook without using Facebook? Interesting. Please explain how.

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

  60. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, talk about "redefining".

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

  61. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Facebook is not the only means of posting public comments, and is not a means whereby you choose to connect to people, but rather where people choose to follow you. If you actually need to connect to a specific person, there is the phone, email or text messages.

    I can't gain an audience outside of Facebook, is not the same as I cannot post public comments.

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

  62. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, telecommunications just uses the same prefix as telephone (and television and telegraph and...).

    tele- means "at a distance."

    "Telephone" means transmission of sound over a distance.
    "Television" means transmission of an image over a distance.
    "Telegraph" means transmission of writing over a distance.

    Telecommunications means...

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

  63. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And before you say, "Nuh-uh," here are my sources for my assertion that telephone systems don't necessarily need to be involved:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=telecommunication

    tel·e·com·mu·ni·ca·tion
    noun

    noun: telecommunication

    communication over a distance by cable, telegraph, telephone, or broadcasting.
    "digital telecommunication has much to recommend it"

    •the branch of technology concerned with telecommunication.
    plural noun: telecommunications

    "the field of telecommunications"

    Origin

    1930s: from French télécommunication, from télé- ‘at a distance’ + communication ‘communication’.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunication

    Telecommunication is the transmission of signs, signals, messages, words, writings, images and sounds or information of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems.

    https://www.techopedia.com/definition/5570/telecommunications

    Telecommunications refers to the exchange of information by electronic and electrical means over a significant distance.

    https://www.britannica.com/technology/telecommunication

    Telecommunication, science and practice of transmitting information by electromagnetic means.

    https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/telecommunications

    Telecommunications is defined as the electronic communication of information over distance.

    https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/070815/what-telecommunications-sector.asp

    The telecommunication sector is made up of companies that make communication possible on a global scale, whether it is through the phone or the Internet, through airwaves or cables, through wires or wirelessly.

    ...And that's just from the first page of the results Google returns for the word.

    Do you have any citations for your assertion that "telecommunication" specifically refers only to communication that occurs over telephone systems?

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

  64. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So then the postal service is also a telecom, since it enables communications "at a distance." As would two people shouting at each other "at a distance." Or a pigeon carrying a message. Or smoke signals. Or waving at someone. So, in your special book, it seems that any type of communication over some distance is part of the the "telecom" sector. Got it.

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

  65. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re:

    I take it you don't remember AOL's curated web experience?

    When did AOL ever provide a communications service? I don't remember ever seeing any AOL lines on any poles or any AOL cell towers. But then, I don't do hallucinogenics either.

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

  66. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You left out broadcast radio and television.

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

  67. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So... you're saying that ISPs aren't communications companies if they don't own the physical infrastructure? Or, are you saying AOL dialup doesn't count because it wasn't wireless?

    "I don't do hallucinogenics either."

    Then, explain the hallucinations.

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

  68. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, in your special book, it seems that any type of communication over some distance is part of the "telecom" sector.

    Only if you're being deliberately obtuse.

    Not all sound transferred at a distance is considered to be "telephone."
    Not all video transferred at a distance is considered to be "television."
    Not all text transferred at a distance is considered to be "telegraph."

    So why would you think I was trying to imply that all communications at a distance would necessarily be "telecommunication?"

    I gave a list of definitions from various sources that define "telecommunications" as information communicated through some electronic means over a distance. I ask again: do you have a citation that specifies that it must occur by means of telephone? I certainly can't find one.

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

  69. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 11:22am

    Re: Seems pretty obvious to me

    Have to say, your comment makes almost no sense (if you're in the US). Soooo many questions:

    1.) How could Facebook or Google be the only options available? They are both simply websites, so unless your government is blocking other sites then you could just go to another site (Twitter, Pinterest, or many others).

    2.) Facebook and Google are just websites as I stated, so how the hell are they limiting your access to "any of the other online companies"?

    3.) Uhhhh, you can change ISP's in your town? Not only that, but "many alternatives"? That is amazing if so and I HAVE to know where you live, since ISP's have a monopoly on almost every place in the United States. There is no alternative really if you want high-speed internet, which is really the point of the story from my perspective.

    4.) You're right, you could stop using your ISP, but that means no internet. The same could be said for BigTech as well, so that argument doesn't seem to hold much water to me.

    5.) Finally, do you work for a Telecom?

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

  70. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: Seems pretty obvious to me

    Your sarcasm meter has gone the way of the parrot..

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

  71. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're right. It's like those idiots that complain about being censored.

    True, you are not allowed to speak about something on a public plaza, but that doesn't mean that you can't speak.

    You're always free to speak in your own room. Posters always make for a great audition.

    Just make sure you get some sturdy walls.

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

  72. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You've found the best solution to make censorship disappear.

    Make all squares private.

    Voila! No censorship because they are privately owned.

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

  73. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Seems pretty obvious to me

    So, he was having trouble detecting that they comment was supposed to be parrot-y?

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

  74. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Got another one

    In my case, my problem with Google is unrelated to ads, or to even them being lead in search engines or whatsoever.

    I'm more worried about my searches/personal data/privacy and in whose hands it might end up. Either by imposition or because it's a good business for them.

    If they took their users privacy really seriously, or if they were able to (it isn't always their fault when govs tell them to keep records for a year or 2), I wouldn't have any issues with their dominance position.

    I don't want privacy being for sale, and if I took any regulatory steps, it would be for tightening what others can do with it. Something akin of "I gave Google my data, sure. Only Google can do something with it, and only after confirming that I'm right with it. No sales allowed or transfers or shit."

    In the end, they deliver what I want in the least obtrusive way. If they got rid of those privacy issues, they'd be a really good service.

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

  75. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Only if you're being deliberately obtuse."

    Ooh, time to bring out the personal attacks now, huh? Well, you're the one with the idiotic claim that AOL was a telecom. And your given reasoning would apply to all those others, as well. But I won't accuse you of being "deliberately" obtuse. In fact, I don't think you even realize it.

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

  76. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I don't do hallucinogenics either."
    Then, explain the hallucinations.

    I don't remember anyone claiming that you don't.

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

  77. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 9:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Okay: either providing a new, reputably sourced definition, or any of the definitions I've provided, explain to me why AOL isn't a telecom. Why, as an Internet Service Provider, are they not in the business of "the exchange of information by electronic and electrical means over a significant distance."

    If my claim that AOL is a telecom is so idiotic, it should be easy for you to find a definition of telecommunications to your liking, and explain why AOL doesn't fall into it.

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

  78. icon
    PaulT (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 12:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Got another one

    Therein lies the problem. You dislike the way they do business still insist on using them over and above their competitors. Therefore things won't change. Companies will listen to competition and the bottom line, not what you have to say on forums while you're still using their free service.

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

  79. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 3:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    One day you will learn the difference between transporting bits over long distances, and bit barns that store and organize lots of bits. Your ISP is in the first category, while AOL, Twitter Facebook are in the second category, and rely of companies in the first category to connect them to their users. Some companies are in both business, but difference regulations apply to the data carrying part of their business, than to the data storage and organization of their business.

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

  80. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 3:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Facebook is a shop with its front on the public plaza, and you can also set up your own shop on that plaza. If you cannot attract an audience to your own site, that is your problem, but stop demand that those who have attracted an audience let you force your speech onto them.

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

  81. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 3:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Seems pretty obvious to me

    No, his sarcasm meter shows the same amount of life as the parrot in the sketch.

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

  82. icon
    PaulT (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 3:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "while AOL, Twitter Facebook are in the second category"

    Erm, AOL most certainly were not, at least in the form that was originally referenced. I think that's the disconnect here - you seem to be addressing them in their current form, whereas the original comment was referencing when they were primarily a dial-up ISP that offered a limited web experience.

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

  83. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Exactly. And, at the time, they even owned Time Warner Cable. Admittedly, they may not be a telecom anymore (do they even exist anymore?), but back when they were offering the web through search keywords, they absolutely were.

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

  84. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If my claim that AOL is a telecom is so idiotic, it should be easy for you to find a definition of telecommunications to your liking, and explain why AOL doesn't fall into it.

    AOL didn't even fit the definitions that you, yourself, provided. An no, doing business on the internet does make you a telecom.

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

  85. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How does an internet service provider not meet the definition of "electronic communication of information over distance?"

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

  86. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And, further, how does Time Warner Cable (which was part of AOL at the time we're discussing) not meet that definition?

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


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