Google Threats beta (and crate Tetris)

To blog, or not to blog? That is the IT Blogwatch, in which Google threatens antitrust lawsuits if it doesn't get its own, net-neutral way. Not to mention how to brighten up an Aussie freeway wall, Tetris-style...

[For background, see Friday's IT Blogwatch]

Cerf to The Hill: we'll fight if telcos abuse their power:

Google Inc. warned yesterday that it will not hesitate to file antitrust complaints in the U.S. if high-speed Internet providers abuse the market power they could receive from U.S. legislators ... Vint Cerf, a Google vice president and one of the pioneers of the Internet, said ... "If the legislators... insist on neutrality, we will be happy. If they do not put it in, we will be less happy, but then we will have to wait and see whether or not there actually is any abuse ... If we are not successful in our arguments ... then we will simply have to wait until something bad happens, and then we will make known our case to the Department of Justice's antitrust division."

Cynthia Brumfield sees a rocky legislative road ahead for broadband providers:

The scorecards are being tallied, with the early handicapping in favor of broadband providers. Business Week’s Roger Crockett has this piece today entitled “Senate Scorecard: AT&T 1, Google 0,” ... Crockett is right on target when he says that it’s going to be very, very difficult to get a bill out this session ... Moreover, overlooked in all the press reports and blog posts and carryings-on about the Senate bill is the fact that only one person in the Senate can kill this legislation through filibuster unless sponsor Ted Stevens (R-AK) can convince 60 Senators to end debate on it ... In the meantime, Google has indicated that if in fact the bill passes without strong net neutrality protections, it will corral its resources for a big antitrust fight.
Techdirt's Mike wishes Google good-luck-with-that:

The net neutrality battle continues to take its inevitable twists and turns. Back when the telcos were threatening to charge Google extra to reach their subscribers, some people suggested that Google should call the telcos' bluff and tell them they wouldn't pay -- which is pretty much exactly what happened. Now that it looks like there won't be net neutrality language in any new telco bills, Google is making it clear that if it finds out a telco is trying to break net neutrality, it might just file antitrust charges against that telco. It's not quite the same threat as using eminent domain to take over telco assets, but it could have the same overall impact: scaring the telcos straight. Of course, that assumes the telcos are actually worried about an antitrust suit. In reality, they probably realize that any such lawsuit would take many, many years -- and by the time it was all decided, it wouldn't much matter any more.
Om Malik calls it...

...a serious no-holds barred legal mess ... The bill has now been kicked up to the US Senate, and while there is little likelihood that the bill is going to get passed this year, it still has many in Silicon Valley worried, most of all Google ... What it really means is that Google et.al can drag this thing for a long time, but they also have to remember that the phone companies are masters of legal posturing and regulation. The best way to fight them is to outspend them in terms of lobbying dollars. Yup, a big fund -- say $500 million - put together by Google, eBay and others could be enough to swing even the staunchest supporters of phone companies to the other side. Sounds crude, but as they say Money Talks!
Constance Reader is pleased:

Google would be taking the fight exactly where I have said many times it needs to be — antitrust law, not telecommunications law ... since net neutrality will be only a matter of principle and not a matter of law, the antitrust forum will be the only one with lions to which we can throw discriminatory telcos and telecoms. And only a company like Google has the financial power to do it ... Any antitrust lawsuit Google files will take such a very, very long and convoluted route to that forum, a route paved with telco/telecom political donations, that it would not make a damn bit of difference in the end. The discrimination will already have happened and, unless Google is granted injunctionary relief against the network owners’ actions soon after it files its suit, it will not stop because you can’t put that genie back into the bottle. Content non-discrimination and net neutrality will have been undermined from the inside.
SearchViews talks the walk:

Well, they're talking the talk, but whether Google will walk the walk remains to be seen. Internet content providers often summon the specter of monopolies in the broadband space to bolster arguments in favor of net neutrality - and they have a point ... Similarly, telecoms frequently harp on the dangers of government regulation when lobbying against net neutrality. Both sides argue that actions unfavorable to them will stifle innovation ... at the moment Google at least has the muscle to give its rivals pause.
Steven Forrest reads between Cerf's lines:

Vint Cerf, a proponent of the proposed "Net Neutrality" regulations, admits what the opposition has been saying all along: despite all the hype and scaremongering from those supporting the Net Neutrality regs, there has yet to be any abuses in the absence of them. Cerf made the rather interesting admission while speaking in Bulgaria recently ... nothing bad has happened. Which means Cerf and Google and the rest of those promoting "Net Neutrality" are pushing drugs for which there is no illness ... Cerf's scaremongering is silly. Providers of broadband Internet service have no incentive to provide their customers degraded service or block customers' access to some services or websites. If they did that, customers could simply switch to other broadband providers - of which there are plenty.
Adam Dada:

The end result of Google's threats will only be MORE government control of the media, not less ... We don't need net neutrality ... What we need is a realistic free market playing field of open competition for anyone who wants to jump into the business. Let's stop all the regulations, taxes, tariffs, fees and restrictions on media companies and let them compete openly ... the phone companies still get preferential treatment from the national, state and local governments, and giving them both preferential treatment and the right to control their pipeline's access is tipping the system towards the cronies, not the consumers. The consumers want one thing -- competition. Competition happens when government stays away from the market. The more we let government "regulate" net neutrality or attempt to create a level playing field, the more we'll see our prices go up, our service levels go down, and competition get wiped out of the market.
Bruce Hoppe asks, "Which mega-corporation are you cheering for?":

I think we have reason to suspect that net neutrality--as it is argued in Washington, anyway--is as much about protecting the Google-Amazon-eBay oligopoly of social commerce (as reported in "Going Long" by John Cassidy in today's New Yorker) as it is about protecting individual life, liberty, and pursuit of online happiness.
Poor MobuzzTV's Karina Stenquist bruised her right forearm. There-there:

Google has said ... they will not go gently into the night ... Now that's an interesting statement ... even if Congress does give telcos this leeway they won't necessarily use it to charge content providers for their traffic ... HAHAHAHAHAHA [snort] ... right!

Buffer overflow:

    Around the Net

    Around Computerworld

And finally... Crate Tetris by Sam, Jerome, Ed and Gab

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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