Blog - Page 12

Will green investment save us?

George Gilder writes that the campaign to reduce greenhouse gasses wastes scarce and precious technological and entrepreneurial resources indispensable to the nation’s future, in today’s Wall Street Journal. About whether green companies create new jobs, Gilder says, In a parody of supply-side economics, advocates of [California’s] AB 32 envisage the substitution of alternative energy sources that create new revenue sources, new jobs and industries. Their economic model sees new wealth emerge from jobs dismantling the existing energy economy and replacing it with a medieval system of windmills and solar collectors. By this logic we could all get rich by razing the existing housing plant and replacing it with new-fangled tents.

Demonizing successful entrepreneurs

Speaking of Tim Wu, in a recent New York Times interview the author of The Master Switch says he thinks capitalism “by its nature, is about conflict, and ultimately the life and death of firms.” He adds that some entrepreneurs are not motivated by money or comfort. Instead, they are motivated by power, and the information industries offer possibilities unavailable to people who sell orange juice or rubber boots, a power over people’s minds. Wu is referring to men like Steve Jobs of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, one or both of whom he deems an “information emperor.” To argue that Jobs and Zuckerberg crave power over people’s minds is almost to equate them with some of the fictional Read More ›

Most monopolies are temporary, thanks to the free market

Ryan Singel explains why Google may not dominate the net, at Wired. And it has nothing to do with antitrust scrutiny of the company’s activities, such as the flap over Google’s purchase of ITA Software. Google slayed Microsoft and Yahoo in the battle for search supremacy but it has been slowly losing momentum in what may turn out to be the real war — the one for the display ad revenues — to an unlikely foe: the dorm-room-born Facebook. At a recent conference sponsored by the Technology Policy Institute, Robert W. Crandall and Charles L. Jackson shared a draft of a paper they are working on analyzing the IBM, AT&T and Microsoft antitrust cases. Crandall and Jackson argue that in Read More ›

New monopolists have a tenuous grip, at best

Prof. Tim Wu has a provocative essay in Saturday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, arguing in effect that a company which is successful is by definition a monopoly that should be regulated. Fortunately, the antitrust laws don’t punish companies that are successful as a result of superior skill, foresight and industry; only those who engage in anticompetitive conduct. That would not include Google, Facebook, eBay, Apple nor Amazon so far as I know. Every businessperson dreams of a monopoly advantage. The pursuit of a monopoly advantage either justifies the high rent that a retailer pays to an airport or the owner of a shopping mall in exchange for an exclusive right to serve coffee or ice cream on the Read More ›

Promoting online privacy with phony symbolism

The New York Times reports that officials at the Federal Trade Commission are exploring a “Do Not Track” option on websites and browsers similar to the “Do Not Call” list which prevents unwanted telemarketing calls. Meanwhile, the White House has established an interagency panel to ensure that any restrictions do not impede law enforcement and national security efforts. A “Do Not Track” feature won’t protect consumers from unwanted ads, only relevant ads they are more likely to find useful. That’s the whole purpose of tracking. Advertisers, who underwrite much of the cost of Internet content, applications and services, will lose an efficient opportunity to connect with potential customers. For what? Meanwhile, even if there will be no tracking for commercial Read More ›

Not a simple matter for ISPs to block botnet traffic

Legions of consumers are not taking reasonable steps to combat botnets, leading some some experts to suggest that ISPs should monitor broadband connections and block botnet-generated traffic.
A botnet is a network of servers or PCs that have been surreptitiously infected with malicious software for the purpose of generating Internet traffic without the owners’ knowledge or consent for some criminal purpose. Antivirus software offered by vendors such as McAfee, Microsoft or Symantec eliminate malicious software, but many consumers don’t utilize these products even when they are available for free.

Read More ›

Regulate broadband, or regulate the Internet?

Commenting on routine contract (e.g. “retransmission”) negotiations between Fox and Cablevision, Michael J. Copps of the Federal Communications Commission had this to say: For a broadcaster to pull programming from the Internet for a cable company’s subscribers, as apparently happened here, directly threatens the open Internet. This was yet another instance revealing how vulnerable the Internet is to discrimination and gate-keeper control absent clear rules of the road. Whoa. Copps is saying net neutrality regulation should apply not only to Internet access providers, but also to content providers. That’s not exactly mainstream. You’ve got to appreciate the guy’s intellectual honesty. In May, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said: “I have been clear about what the FCC should not do in the Read More ›

Does the First Amendment mandate net neutrality?

From a “defender” of the First Amendment: The First Amendment, of course, protects speech only from the government. But access to the Internet is provided by private corporations enabled by government, and protecting the same interests and values that the First Amendment protects, requires in this case that the government create strong policies against incursion by companies that are, at root, profit-seeking rather than civic-minded. So argues a report from the American Civil Liberties Union entitled “Network Neutrality 101 – Why The Government Must Act To Preserve The Free And Open Internet.” Basically, the argument seems to be that if the government subsidizes, licenses or regulates something, it can be treated just like the government, at least for First Amendment Read More ›

Florida telecom reform

I was privileged to make a presentation at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s “Future of Florida Forum” concerning telecommunications regulation and broadband investment. My bullet points are here.

Scope and complexity of net neutrality proposals at issue

Yesterday the FCC received further public comment on two issues in the Open Internet (aka net neutrality) proceeding: (1) the relationship between open Internet protections and services that are provided over the same last-mile facilities as broadband Internet access service (“specialized services”) and (2) the application of open Internet rules to mobile wireless Internet access services, which have unique characteristics related to technology, associated application and device markets, and consumer usage. Basically, the first issue can be summarized as follows: the FCC wants to regulate broadband Internet access services, but has tried to carve out innovative future services because it does not want to be subject to the criticism that regulation would likely inhibit innovation. It is clear the FCC Read More ›