The Senate Intelligence Committee is meeting this week about foreign influence on tech platforms. In the hot seat: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Google refuses to make an appearance, even though the committee specifically requested Larry Page’s presence. Google no doubt prefers not to come under too much scrutiny. Just last week The Intercept reported that Google Executives Misled (Their Own) Staff on China Censorship. With so many balls in the air/fronts to defend, the cabal (Google, Facebook, Twitter, in this instance) have become such hydras with so many tentacles – and fronts – to defend, that they may well be on the verge of falling on their own swords – and they themselves have provided the arguments and ammunition, should Congress or an oversight committee be forced to step in. Notice: we don’t necessarily suggest regulation. They did that themselves: Last week, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter and others urged a U.S. appeals court to reinstate federal “net neutrality” regulations on internet service providers, to maintain a “free and open internet.”
Says Investors Business Daily (Oops: Net Neutrality Advocates Just Made The Case For Regulating Google And Facebook), “The filing says that the FCC was wrong to overturn the “net neutrality” rules imposed by the Obama administration. Those 2015 rules were supposed to protect the “free and open” internet by forbidding ISPs from, as the filing puts it, “engaging in discriminatory practices that limit consumer choice, competition, and innovation online.”
Speaking of Openness…
ISPs operate as gatekeepers between customers and online content providers and have the incentive and ability to use that position to threaten internet openness, reads the filing, which further states that “ISPs are effective monopolies that must be regulated. As IBD points out, “Google (GOOGLE) now acts as a gatekeeper. So does Facebook (FB). So does Twitter (TWTR). In fact, these companies now brag about how they’re taking videos down, blocking content, deleting postings, removing pictures, that they don’t like. In other words, they’re threatening internet openness…”
Speaking of Monopolies and Gatekeepers…
Speaking of effectively being monopolies, Google accounts for 89% of internet search traffic. Facebook has 2.1 billion active users. Amazon dominates online retail, what to speak of cloud services. Monopolies? The fact is, you don’t even need to be on Facebook to be tracked by the platform, speaking of overreach.
Absent conduct rules, the ‘virtuous cycle’ in which all participants in the internet ecosystem are able to prosper on account of open access to content has been replaced by a system in which ISPs have the incentive and ability to stifle both consumer choice and new online offerings.”
As IBD points out, there’s no evidence that ISPs do this, but there is clear evidence that Google manipulates search results and that Google/YouTube and Facebook will censor content or delete users and accounts without warning. What to speak of Twitter’s practice of shadowbanning.
Net Neutrality and the Demise of IPOs
We will remind you that the number of tech IPOs fell under Net Neutrality. The unicorn concept was crushed. Remember the Blue Apron IPO? Amazon announced that they were entering the space, and Blue Apron pretty much all but disappeared. The IPO was a disaster: Net Neutrality went far in helping to consolidate the power and control of the tech cartel. All Amazon had to say was that they were entering the space, and game – and IPO – histoire for Blue Apron.
Meanwhile, Qualtrics is interviewing bankers, preparing for their IPO. SurveyMonkey has filed for a $100M IPO, as has X Financial ($250M US IPO) and Chinese pharmacy 111 ($140M US IPO). And that was last week alone. Just as California passes strongest net neutrality law in the country (pending the governor’s signature). There’s a shocker. Math, done. Crush, kill, destroy.
It seems that Google may be called on to face the FTC – the same commission that now oversees the ISPs – and the company has given every argument for why they need to conform to the same regulations. Arrogance is blind. Google et al never shrink from cutting the so-called evil ISPs to the quick and have made the arguments for regulations. What the so-called smartest guys in the room failed to take into account is that, unfortunately, that sword that they so willingly provided cuts both ways. Onward and forward.