Google Net Neutrality discussions

Google Net Neutrality discussions

Good morning, All,

Our next Breakfast with an Investor will be on April 16th, with our guest investor Kelly Hoey. Speaker, strategist and investor, Kelly Hoey is known for her leadership in building valuable professional networks, understanding the dynamics of engaged communities and the “how” of raising visibility, online and off. She is also recognized for her “boots on the ground” leadership in the startup community by her investments in and promotion of women in tech. More on her below, and register here.

Credit where credit is due: there was a book with the same title as our subject line. We never read it and draw no parallels. Overtly.

Whenever Google goes quiet, you have to start wondering what’s going on, and while we’ve flagged the search and advertising behemoth in the past – to the point where got a note from a quite senior person at the company, who asked us to stop giving in to conjecture: it was for flagging that Google was scanning our emails, only we reported it years before it was made public. So much for conjecture.

In case you missed it, Google executives average one White House meeting per week, as was widely reported. Interesting and notice was taken that Google (et al, meaning other big players) were strangely quiet during this latest bout of Net Neutrality discussions. As Wired reported, ‘“In 2010, large companies like Google, eBay, Microsoft, and Skype, were really important partners in the fight for network neutrality rules,” says Barbara van Schewick, a Stanford professor who has written about net neutrality. “They lobbied the FTC; they send their lobbyists to Congress; they all submitted detailed comments to the FCC. This round of the net neutrality debate was very different.” The question is: Why?’

‘Google did offer a rare public comment in late December, when the company said that if Google Fiber is regulated as a telecom service, it should get access to utility poles and other infrastructure owned by utilities,” said the Wall Street Journal.  “On this point, Google got what it wanted. Wheeler said his proposal ‘ensures fair access’ to utility poles and other infrastructure, ‘which would boost the deployment of new broadband networks.”’

We mention this in case you wondered why/how Title II got bundled into the ‘legislation.’

Don’t we always talk about the importance of networking? And there’s more:

The FTC rebuffed its own staff when they turned over documents (FTC says regrets release of documents on Google probe) from the 2012 US antitrust case against Google. “We are taking additional steps to ensure that such a disclosure does not occur in the future,” the commissioners said. The release came as European antitrust regulators decide their next steps in a four-year investigation of Google, and never mind that “the agency essentially ignored a staff recommendation to sue Google during its 2012 investigation of the search giant’s practices” FTC Denies Report That Agency Ignored Staff Recommendation on Google.

For the record, Fortune reports that, ‘The meetings between Google staff and White House officials ramped up in late 2012 while the company was facing an antitrust investigation by the FTC. Top Google executives also met with FTC officials as that investigation was wrapping up.’

As always, the bottom line is – the bottom line – How Google Skewed Search Results: “A previously undisclosed report by staffers at the FTC reveals new details about how Google Inc. manipulated search results to favor its own services over rivals’, even when they weren’t most relevant for users.” Yes, Google earnings are up, and are expected to go higher.

Our overriding concern here: what’s the difference between service providers offering a tiered system and designating a ‘fast lane’ for content providers willing to pay, the costs for which would have been passed along to consumers, and Google skewing search results in favor of its own products and its own enrichment, in case you were looking for the forest through the trees? That’s what net neutrality was all about, and certainly took up much of the online mindshare. Tomato, tomahto.

People have a way of letting issues slide. Invasions into our privacy, without our consent, are reported and somehow quickly become yesterday’s news, sans repercussions. Facebook privacy policies, for example, are more egregious now than when first reported. And where is all of this lax oversight of Google going? We stopped using Google search years ago, as many of you know, yet there’s this: an acquaintance recently emailed us an invitation to an event, which was being held at his apartment. We’d never been there before. The building number has three digits, and he lives on a two-digit cross street, and we will not venture at how many millions of five-digit street addresses there are in the US. We closed the email, and as a test, opened a Google browser (ten minutes later). No sooner had we entered the first two digits than the entire address replicated itself in the search bar. Seriously? This goes beyond the pale. We wonder what other fresh hell is being cooked up at those many White House meetings. At some point, the game goes beyond mere advertising, and considering the number of backroom deals that are no doubt going down, and that Google controls what we buy, the news we read — and Obama’s policies, we’re personally just not buying whatever Google’s selling. Onward and forward.

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