AT&T Says The Real Problem With The Internet Is We Pay Too Much Attention To Giant ISPs

from the ill-communication dept

As Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook face all manner of (justified) regulatory scrutiny, telecom has been able to somehow remove itself from the conversation, despite engaging in many of the same (if not worse) behaviors over the years. While Congress obsesses about new ways to regulate "big tech," the US government has oddly been busy neutering all oversight of "big telecom". That's at least partially by design; giants like AT&T and Comcast have spent years pushing for the hyper regulation of companies telecom increasingly competes with in the online ad space.

The result: as Silicon Valley faces an endless cavalcade of daily DC and press outrage, the telecom sector has suddenly little to no scrutiny whatsoever. Whether it's the speed at which the competition-eroding 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."

AT&T's top lobbying and policy man, Jim Cicconi, was recently brought out of retirement to (in part) help tackle both the looming privacy minefield and an ongoing revolt among investors who have grown tired of AT&T's focus on growth for growth's sake. In a treatise nobody asked for, Cicconi this week shared his thoughts on recent missives at the NY Times exploring how the bloom of optimism has fallen from the internet rose in recent years.

The Times package focuses on everything from US broadband coverage woes to the rise of internet misinformation. But Cecconi's takeaway from the package, unsurprisingly, is somehow that broadband providers are yesterday's news and no longer worth talking about:

"Notably, nowhere does the series discuss internet service provider (ISP)-based open internet misconduct or concerns, and for good reason. As intervening events in the last few years have dramatically exposed how the internet is being used, misused and manipulated by a variety of internet players, ISP-centric arguments have quickly become yesterday’s policy story."

This idea that the hugely unpopular telecom sector is an innocent little angel and Silicon Valley is the only real problem has been a narrative telecom giants have been pushing for a while, and with pretty notable success if you've tracked DC policy conversations and the newswires. But because the Times didn't bother mentioning how telecom is nearly as terrible on privacy as Facebook, doesn't make it untrue. Of course Cicconi and AT&T's real goal is to ensure that whatever regulation and legislation comes from this era of reckoning, it won't include big telecom:

"Yet for the past decade plus, the internet policy debate has been focused almost solely on ISPs, to the exclusion of other online actors. That regulatory myopia has in turn produced the internet we didn’t expect. The true costs and challenges of an interconnected world, which are now only starting to be more fully understood, are the issues that today demand our time, energy and best ideas. As we look back on the debate, I hope that the signs and signals we missed previously will illuminate our path forward."

That's total fantasy. The telecom sector has spent billions of dollars to eliminate consumer protections and government oversight of its businesses over the last few decades. That recently culminated in the FCC's decision to effectively self-immolate at industry's behest, shoveling any remaining telecom oversight to an FTC that lacks the authority or resources to police the sector effectively. The end result: a total accountability vacuum that's letting the telecom sector rip off customers with relative impunity, provided they're moderately clever about it.

Our friend Jim is worried about one thing: that Congress and the states will ruin AT&T's string of good luck with new laws and regulation focused on subjects like privacy and an open internet. And he'd sure appreciate it if the most unpopular business sector in America, fresh on the heels of thirty years of anticompetitive behavior, is excluded entirely from the conversation.

Filed Under: internet, jim cicconi, privacy, regulations, telcos
Companies: at&t


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  1. icon
    Norahc (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 6:49am

    So we're supposed to ignore rhe companies that often times have a monoply on our access to big tech sites, charge us exhorbant and ever increasing fees for this access, and have a history of bad behavior going back decades. Instead we need to focus on websites that we are not required to use or even visit if we don't want to?

    Wow...whatever drugs he's on I want some.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 7:18am

    ISPs are kind of like the front left wheel on a shopping cart. The only time most people think about it is when it is not doing a good job.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 7:24am

    Telcos don't mix politics with providing an internet backbone. They are generally not biased or don't run their companies in a way that would indicate that.

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

  4. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 7:45am

    Telcos don't mix politics with providing an internet backbone.

    Here, have my funny vote.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 7:53am

    Re:

    How about politics and the last mile?

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 8:09am

    "Yet for the past decade plus, the internet policy debate has been focused almost solely on ISPs, to the exclusion of other online actors."

    This debate, I assume, is the net neutrality debate. What other online actors would net neutrality affect other than ISPs?
    These other actors I assume are social media. How does social media play any role in net neutrality?
    Perhaps my assumptions are incorrect, it wouldn't be the first time.

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

  7. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 8:09am

    Shut up and serve my Internets

    ISP's should be dumb pipes. Please let them be dumb, in all the varieties of definition that word allows.

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

  8. identicon
    Pixelation, 5 Dec 2019 @ 9:17am

    As we all know...

    If AT&T says it, it's bullshit!

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

  9. identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 5 Dec 2019 @ 10:28am

    Drop the Attention and you're right on the money.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 10:47am

    !

    Pay too much attention to isps”
    Me: sucks to be then bro eh AT bro lol

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    Which is most of the time.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 2:59pm

    Re: whatever drugs he's on

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

  13. icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 3:09pm

    do I have to say it..

    POT to the kettle: You so black,,, You so Black, you make my Momma look White..

    Kettle: Snicker.. ROFL..

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

  14. icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 3:12pm

    Re: do I have to say it..

    http://www.jokes4us.com/yomamajokes/yomamasoblackjokes.html

    Yo mama's so black every time she gets in a car the check oil light comes on
    Yo mama's so black if she sat in a jacuzy the water turned into coffee
    Yo mama's so black she went to night school and got marked absent
    Yo mama's so black she bleeds smoke
    Yo mama's so black she drinks water and pees coffee.
    Yo mama's so black that lightening bugs follow her in the daytime Yo mama's so black I shot her and the bullets came back with flashlights saying "I can't find the bitch"
    Yo mama so black her blood type is burnt
    Yo mama's so black, she could show up naked to a funeral.
    Yo mama's so black, when she puts on yellow lipstick, she looks like a cheese burger.
    ....

    source: http://www.jokes4us.com/yomamajokes/yomamasoblackjokes.html

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

  15. icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 3:15pm

    Re: do I have to say it..

    Pot to the kettle:
    Your so black, your Shadow looks embarrassed..

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

  16. icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 3:16pm

    Pot to the kettle:
    Your so black, you make Darth Glow in the dark..

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 3:21pm

    Somebody call 911 for him

    Either they have him held as a hostage, or his pants are going to give him 3rd degree burns.

    If I don’t google, I can search with DuckDuckGo, email with any one of a number of webmail services, and guess what? I live a perfectly fulfilling life without Facebook, Snapchat, Instant Grandmother and whatever else the kids are using.

    If I want to do any of that without Comcast, I can go to the library ad wait for Starlink to go active?

    Yep, we’re definitely too focused on ISPs. </s for Poe’s law defense>

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

  18. icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Dec 2019 @ 4:30pm

    Re:

    the big problem is without ISP, you cant get easy access...
    And the ISP's are trying to find ways to make more money, without competition.. they dont WANT to compete and dont want to BUY AMAZON or GOOGLE..
    they want to create there own PAYMART.. where you can shop for anything, and PAY THEM MORE... And they cant see a way to do it, under THEIR ideal of Charging you for little to get nothing..

    The Current ISP's are not developers. They are bill collectors. The only thing they Might do is install new lines, and they charge a Fortune for that.. about $2000+ per pole to your house. Min without pole, is $50-100...to Goto the pole, find the connection, and drop a line to make 1 connection...Extra if you want 2 or more.
    Most dont even like to create internet sites, where you can have access to them and their sales. because they have to pay someone to do it..

    Dont know who has had time to watch whats happened on the net. But the fights and battles of Which company will become large enough, while also fighting movie/Music/... access to sell and trade has been a big battle. Whats left is what you get.
    Even the porn sites hated this fight, and the Browser war has been over Protection and being able to go anywhere, and not worry to much about it..Protection from Advertising that JAMS/INFECT/STEALS/.../.../.... your computer..
    If they wanted they could have a Browser Created.. and do allot, but these companies dont want competition. they dont want to fight the RIAA/MPAA to have access to music they could sell.. they dont understand the idea of BACKUP, RESTORE..If things fail they really dont want to fix it.

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

  19. identicon
    Personanongrata, 5 Dec 2019 @ 5:29pm

    HAHA

    AT&T Says The Real Problem With The Internet Is We Pay Too Much Attention To Giant ISPs

    Lowbrow comedy in the high-tech age.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2019 @ 5:58pm

    Re: HAHA

    I personally thought it was sort of hilarious.

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

  21. identicon
    Glenn, 6 Dec 2019 @ 12:57am

    The only problem with the Internet is that we have to go through corporations like AT&T to get to it.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2019 @ 1:56am

    Re: Re:

    You missed the big one, most of those companies are also cable TV companies.

    When you deliver a product over your own network, and also enable access to competing products on over the same network, there is a strong temptation to protect your own product subscriptions by making the competitions more expensive, or less useful. The big ISPs are trying to turn the Internet into a subscription model, where they get paid extra for every service you use that they do not control.

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

  23. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 6 Dec 2019 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    NN violations are essentially an end-run around the free-market competition the Libertarian anti-NN shills pretend they want.

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

  24. icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Dec 2019 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Lets see..
    The same companies in the areas, control..
    TV/Cable/Sat/Internet/Wired phones/Wireless Phones/...
    All communications.

    And they wish to limit your access to Only Local,which isnt WHY we have a phone system. Our Gov. paid for rural areas to be Built up, because If something strange happens, it might be nice to tell someone besides the nearest COW.

    Our Gov. paid for the backbone which most of these service Use.
    If you didnt know. which I think you do.
    If these End of line companies got SHUT DOWN, it would restrict all access out of a local area, and probably even that..
    Even using Sat to communicate, send data, is a Pain to do, but the Gov. has that responsibility..and the only way for Sat to work well would be Using laser communications, and not radio freq. Radio causes a 5-7 second delay.. And is 1 good reason that the Undersea cables are Fiber. Waiting for a reply Long distance can suck.

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

  25. icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Dec 2019 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    AND..
    that is a solution.
    Stop paying the corps to do something WE, can create.
    Updating is the problem. In the past, we dont know what was done, but we see the out come. and it dont look nice.

    we could put allot of people to work fixing all of this and CHARGE the corps for the mess. update it to the point that if needed we can do it 10 times faster and better.. changing things would be easy, NOT proprietary CRAP/.

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

  26. icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Dec 2019 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re:

    Tell the gov.to quit bitching, and FIX IT.. thats their job.
    And its a good threat to the corps.
    There are a good amount of companies looking to do the Fiber installations.. but the Corps arent doing it, and if they do its 100 times more expensive.

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

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2019 @ 8:51pm

    Re:

    I was wishing that mf atandt would disappear forty years ago and its still here decades after handing all our data to the feds on a platter telling us now what the problem is. THAT's Fucking RICH.

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

  28. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Dec 2019 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    "So we're supposed to ignore rhe companies that often times have a monoply on our access to big tech sites, charge us exhorbant and ever increasing fees for this access, and have a history of bad behavior going back decades."

    Uh, yes?

    Look, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are feeling all sore and tender over the unwanted and unwished for criticism they encounter just about everywhere. They work REALLY hard at screwing their customers after all, and are feeling all their hard work is unappreciated.

    /s just in case...after all, with Bobmail/Blue around it's sometimes hard to tell, no matter how demented the post is.

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


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