Much Of The Assault On 'Big Tech' Is Being Driven By 'Big Telecom'

from the inauthentic-outrage dept

Over the last few months, 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 briefly 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."

But while Silicon Valley faces an endless cavalcade of outrage, the telecom sector is suddenly seeing no scrutiny whatsoever. Whether it's the speed at which the problematic T-Mobile merger is being shoveled through the DOJ and FCC or the blind eye being turned to major telecom privacy scandals (like location data), telecom lobbyists have been on a successful tear convincing well-heeled DC lawmakers to ignore the massive, obvious monopoly, privacy, and competition issues inherent in telecom to focus exclusively on the problems in "big tech."

Yet somehow, this asymmetrical policy paradigm is still treated as entirely coincidental in press coverage. Only recently have some news outlets started to notice how well things have been going for telecom lately in DC (Axios calls it telecom's "sweet summer of revenge"). Outlets have even started to finally realize that with former telecom lawyers now running the FCC and DOJ (Ajit Pai and Bill Barr), that is not coincidentally being reflected in federal policies attempting to hamstring telecom's competitors:

"In a June speech, DOJ Antitrust Division Chief Makan Delrahim laid out ways his agency could could go after Big Tech for anti-competitive behavior. In a June Senate hearing, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, “The greatest threat to a free and open internet has been the unregulated Silicon Valley tech giants that do, in fact, today decide what you see and what you don’t,” he said."

It's routinely understated how telecom lobbying, not a sincere worry about market power or privacy, is what's driving much of this current policy paradigm in DC (including much of the hyperventilation over nonexistent Censorship of Conservatives). The telecom sector is pushing hard into an online advertising sector traditionally dominated by Silicon Valley. As such, telecom lobbyists have spent several years now pushing to hamstring their direct competitors with the help of cash-compromised lawmakers and full blown regulatory capture.

That includes successfully convincing government that a sector filled with natural, historically-predatory monopolies should see no guard rails whatsoever (see the killing of net neutrality and the neutering of the FCC as example A). Yet somehow, there are still a lot of folks in tech policy circles who see the lopsided focus on "big tech" as entirely authentic, and any failure to police telecom as somehow coincidental. But folks in DC (like former FCC lawyer Gigi Sohn), are well aware that much of this current policy paradigm is highly-produced theater and, shockingly, all about money:

Again, none of this is to say that there aren't massive problems with Silicon Valley giants and plenty of authentic calls for reform. But it is a reminder that an oversized portion of the current anti big tech sentiment in DC is telecom driven. Intellectual inconsistency and campaign finance data usually makes it clear which lawmakers are telecom sector marionettes. More often than not consumer rights, market power, or healthy competition are the very last thing on the minds of those pushing lopsided regulatory solutions to a "big tech" problem they don't actually care all that much about.

Filed Under: antitrust, doj, ftc, internet, telecom
Companies: amazon, apple, at&t, comcast, facebook, google, verizon


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 6:34am

    While Google and friends cannot control what you are capable of doing online, the Telcos can, and want to to protect their associated cable businesses by crippling the online competition.

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

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Brian 'Buy Nary' O'Bairn, Buyer at Brainerd Binary, 10 Sep 2019 @ 6:51am

    Right! Forget their rabid increasing control and surveillance!

    And so many deliberate opening of API, confidential data breaches, and stupid management that intends to enforce their political agenda?

    Do you expect to be taken seriously, minion? A day after nearly every state AG announced probing GOOGLE? (California didn't because BOUGHT OFF.)

    Then HOORAY Big Telecom!

    But in last paragraph you characteristically yank back your own premise because it's ABSURD. You're just writing to spec, started from need to defend Masnick's "sponsors", GOOGLE and Silicon Valley.

    https://copia.is/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sponsors.png

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

  3. icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 7:16am

    Re: Right! Forget their rabid increasing control and surveillanc

    "Then HOORAY Big Telecom!"

    It's pretty pathetic that you're cheering for companies screwing you over just because you like them more than the other companies screwing you over. Why you cheer for that rather than demanding that the screwing stops is beyond me.

    "defend Masnick's "sponsors""

    Are you ever going to answer my questions about that image - why is it that you think that linking to an image that's intentionally made public by Mike is some kind of "gotcha", and why are you obsessed with only a small number of names on that image?

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

  4. icon
    Gary (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 7:17am

    Re: Right! Forget their rabid Trolling

    But why do you love copyright so much when it's just corporate control, you moron?

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

  5. icon
    Ed (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 7:36am

    I trust Google far, far more than I do AT&T or Comcast. And I only trust Google a small amount.

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

  6. icon
    DannyB (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 7:37am

    Terminology and POV

    It is interesting how Big Telecom refers to Big Tech (Google, Facebook, etc) as "Edge Providers".

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

  7. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 7:44am

    They way of the way

    Big Telcom: "Hey look, over there!"

    Big Tech: "Who, us?"

    Governments: (Checking campaign donation lists and upcoming lobbyist luncheon schedule) "Yeah, you."

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

  8. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 8:18am

    Re: Terminology and POV

    Its the appropriate term. Edge providers, in the lingo of players contributing to the internet, are those providing content or services. They are at the endpoints of the network, or the 'edges'.

    This is in contrast to an access provider (or last-mile provider or service provider, aka an ISP), or a backbone provider.

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

  9. icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 8:24am

    Re: Terminology and POV

    I'm always intrigued as to how they don't get called "Big Tech", since they are by definition technology companies. I mean, I understand the need to separate the sectors in some ways, but they are tech companies.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    Goddammit, blue, wipe that Ajit Pai off your face already.

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

  11. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 8:49am

    Do you expect to be taken seriously, minion?

    Given the apparent level of your paranoia and delusions, I could ask the same of you.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 9:47am

    Re:

    "protect their associated cable businesses by crippling the online competition"

    Is this tactic a typical occurrence within this free market I hear so much about?

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Terminology and POV

    Yup - I think Big Telecom is a subset of Big Tech, as is Big Edge Provider.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re:

    Only in countries that refuse to regulate the common infrastructure, and and open it to competing service providers.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 10:25am

    This probably should have been filed under the "No shit, Sherlock" department.

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

  16. icon
    ECA (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 12:07pm

    FOR ALL THE BS..

    Lets look to the past..
    Apple/MS/IBM/INTEL...
    we didnt do anything about these corps in the past. WHY NOW?

    As to the Corps that are PART of the net. They Fought For it. They competed.. They did what they do to Make money.. And they are STILL competing..as ned things come up to the net and improve. the Problem we tend to have, is the Major ISP's WANT some of the cake, but have no recipe for it.
    The consolidation of the Phone/cell/Cable/Sat/ISP services under Corps that JUST WANT THE BILLS PAID TO THEM.. Isnt competing nor improving WHAT THEY HAVE..
    FB, Amazon, Google are Fairly Dynamic, and keep changing, to adapt to Everything happening. They DO have problems as keeping up with international laws, and Each countries Laws is really a BITCH.. AND that solution tends to be difficult for Those groups to understand... If you dont like Google/FB/... GO MAKE YOUR OWN.. China tried, but when the users get arrested for using it....People STOP using it..

    Who here has an idea of the Chat prog's that are out there, and How many Other chat prog's are out there.. HUNDREDS.. and some are doing things differently.. Like P2P, insted of server based.. Its very private. a direct connection to EACH person rather then joining a group. do you thing the ISP's would like this idea?? NOPE.

    for those that dont understand competition... Hauwii vs Cisco. Amazon/newegg vs Direct to China companies(3-4 of them and More coming).
    Direct to China is interesting as Google and Amazon are the Major Server corps, so they get paid either way..

    There is a video about Cruise lines, and HOW they get away with everything...and its crappy.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nCT8h8gO1g

    Its very interesting..But lets ask a strange question..
    WHERE IS THE INTERNET?? which countries have control/can tax/can do anything to international conglomerates??

    The ISP's are getting away with it, but Why not Google/amazon and those that are Everywhere.. Our ISP's are in this country, and cant go anywhere. They do services int his country, and hardly get taxed, and when taxed, just pass it to the customers.
    this sounds more like Gov. controls are gone, or our gov. dont remember how to control them.

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

  17. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 12:08pm

    Nice Try, with less than half the information.

    Hmm, where is the list of Telecom lobbying? Or, more to the point, which has the bigger lobby?

    We can see which has the more effective lobby.

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

  18. icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: They way of the way

    You're right, the system is so broken that the only way industries can protect their interests is by buying off the same politicians their opponents are buying off. Meanwhile...

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajdellinger/2019/05/31/heres-how-telecom-giants-spent-more -than-1-billion-lobbying-congress/

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2019 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Right! Forget their rabid increasing control and surveillanc

    “Sponsors”

    You know something blue?
    Even if that was true I could care less because considering how politics works these days HES JUST PLAYING EVEN.

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

  20. identicon
    Annonymouse, 11 Sep 2019 @ 4:45am

    Re:

    As far as I know there isn't a Senecot for this problem.

    Politicians are like diapers and need to be changed often and for the same reason.

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

  21. identicon
    Pfft, 11 Sep 2019 @ 5:22am

    I'll just leave this here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/07/jeffrey-epstein-mit-funding-tech-intellectuals

    Big tech is made up of a bunch of morally bankrupt, malignant frauds. You who take their blood money (Masnick) and feed like pigs at their trough are no better.

    It's funny, but I don't recall ISP executives hobnobbing around at snobby think sessions with pedophiles. I don't recall similar instances of their senior legal officials behaving the way Google's David Drummond behaves... And getting away with it. I don't recall senior ISP executives sexually assaulting female staffers and walking away with $35 million payouts.

    Lets face it, if executives from any other industry in America (save the vampire squids on Wall Street and maybe big Pharma) behaved the way the tech elite behaved they'd be thrown in jail.

    Continue to feed at their trough, take their money, and defend them like the good little lapdogs you all are, but a warning: you will become increasingly irrelevant, neigh reviled as nothing more than factotum defenders of a thoroughly repugnant Silicon Valley super-elite culture that makes the rest of society sick.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 5:56am

    Re:

    Lets face it, if executives from any other industry in America (save the vampire squids on Wall Street and maybe big Pharma) behaved the way the tech elite behaved they'd be thrown in jail.

    Unless they are part of the movie, TV and music industry....

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

  23. icon
    PaulT (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:06am

    Re:

    "I don't recall senior ISP executives sexually assaulting female staffers and walking away with $35 million payouts."

    I do, however, recall massive amounts of fraud and corruption with far greater impact than that on everybody, but you'll give them a pass for that for some reason.

    "Lets face it, if executives from any other industry in America (save the vampire squids on Wall Street and maybe big Pharma) behaved the way the tech elite behaved they'd be thrown in jail."

    No, they wouldn't, which is the problem you'd recognise if only you weren't so obsessive ignorant.

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

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:25am

    Re:

    "Big tech is made up of a bunch of morally bankrupt, malignant frauds."
    By inference, the rest of the worldwide corporate elite are not?
    This is obviously incorrect but you did imply it.

    Bad behavior in the C-Suite only occurs at "Big Tech" ... got it. Where is the "Big Tech" pizza joint?

    "Lets face it, if executives from any other industry in America (save the vampire squids on Wall Street and maybe big Pharma) behaved the way the tech elite behaved they'd be thrown in jail. "
    Wrong.

    You sound a bit off mentally, perhaps the government should be monitoring your actions.

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

  25. icon
    ECA (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 11:26am

    Re:

    Really love the idea you point out only a certain group as being the worse.
    And you have missed allot of others..

    If you really think about it, this is the Same ideal, that the HOME MADE rich used to have about the Up and coming, NEW RICH..
    Keep saying it and when STUFF happens, on the Home made rich side, you will get to explain that also..

    Cant even figure how you get less then 1/2 of what the old rich have done in the past.. LIKE, taking most Manufacturing OUT of the USA, insted of dealing with the New pollution laws created in the 70-80's...and recently, the REMOVAL of 80% of those laws...
    They didnt want to Modify, update, cleanup...THEY RAN AWAY..
    And the USA gov. is now Still trying to Cleanup the superfund sites they created..WITH OUR MONEY.

    What will be real fun is when you figure out that INSTED of individual CR and IP for individuals, Corps are taking them away, by giving us Jobs, and anything we create is taken by the corps..

    Have you ever seen the corp banking system at the top.. So many positions, so FEW people in control. They go back and forth between the banks.. Persons making over $1000 per hour 24/7/365...and THEY know how to hide money...

    get off the big white horse and think harder. Out of all this and the Corruptions... Who has enough money to HIDE/Payoff anyone that finds out? Who can pay others to kidnap a child for the sex trades?? Who can hire a plane with no Problems, and Ship people OUT for any reasoning you could think..
    The New rich aint gotten that far...YET.

    Its always amazed me that the Poor look up to the rich. The rich do something and the Poor try to do it, or try to make enough money to do the SAME THING... Do we think it will make us rich?? NOPE..it makes us BROKE trying to be as they are.

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

  26. identicon
    Châu, 13 Sep 2019 @ 7:29pm

    New question

    Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple have big money, why they not reverse this corruption and buy Congress for assault telcom companies?

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.