Technology

What consumers want in FTC v. Google

The press is on fire with dozens of stories that the FTC appears poised to sue Google for alleged anticompetitive conduct in search (and the possibility that any case may be settled). There certainly is no lack of well-paid advocates for aggrieved rivals ready to spin claims that Google is the next Microsoft and that FTC action is necessary to open the market to competition. But while these advocates are making a lot of noise, consumers are almost entirely silent. Indeed, unlike almost all of the recent antitrust wars such as the AT&T/T-Mobile and Ticketmaster/LiveNation mergers, or even the DOJ case against Microsoft, in which there was a groundswell of consumer opposition that spurred the antitrust cops, when it comes to search, consumers are entirely silent.

For good reason.

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Google's data-collecting habits drawing more scrutiny

Earlier this month, European Union regulators informed Google that they’re unhappy with Google’s new privacy policy and that it will need to make changes to better protect the privacy of its users. The concern arises over how Google is collecting users' data and what they’re doing with it, and in turn how they’re informing their users on how they’re collecting and what they’re using it for. The EU would like clearer language, in a more understandable less legalese format, so that the average user can clearly understand what’s taking place when the use Google products.

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Congress should pass Internet Radio Fairness Act

It’s like the riddle of the chicken and the egg – which comes first? New technology platforms or the programs that those platforms bring to the user, thereby driving new advancements in technology platforms? It’s a question that makes clear the cyclical nature of innovation.
 
Today, with innovation in mind and in conjunction with colleagues from across a variety of Internet and technology industries, I helped to launch the Internet Radio Fairness Coalition – a group of stakeholders voicing their enthusiastic support for the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA).

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The case for progressive communications policy

Toward the end of the last millennium, a federal agency sought to collapse its regulatory structure to speed government decision-making. It realized that rapidly developing technology was creating competition in the market it regulated, and its regulatory structures needed to change in response.
 
Then Republicans were voted into the White House, and the plan went into a drawer.
 
That agency was the Federal Communications Commission, which is responsible for promoting communications access and creating policies on broadband, spectrum, competition, media, and public safety. The author of the plan was then-Chairman William Kennard, now Ambassador to the European Union.
 
Kennard understood the communications industry was adapting to the greatest technological change of our time, the Internet.

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Online privacy - We must protect our children

You get directions on your smartphone, buy a new shirt on your smart TV and connect with friends on your tablet — the Internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities, but it can also put your privacy at risk.
 
The headlines these days are full of data breaches, cases of website operators not following existing law and examples of operators discovering creative and sometimes reckless ways to use your personal information.
 
To me, privacy is as important in the 21st century as it was in the 18th century, when our country was founded. If our forefathers knew what the Internet and modern technology would be like today, they would have put a right to privacy explicitly in the Constitution. 
 
People want their privacy protected — just ask them.

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US must protect against cyber threats from China

America depends on functioning and secure telecommunications networks. These networks are our nation's backbone for essential communications, and support many aspects of the American marketplace - including the government, state and local entities, law enforcement, critical infrastructure partners, businesses, and private citizens.

These networks hold sensitive and private information, and they are proven targets for foreign governments or other entities attempting to commit economic espionage, steal trade secrets, or access government information in an attempt to gain a strategic advantage over the United States.

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Investigative report on ZTE, Huawei is unprecedented in its accusations

The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Investigative Report, which was released on Monday, October 8, 2012, is unprecedented in terms of its blatant accusations against ZTE and Huawei and labeling these companies a security threat to the United States. The report accuses these companies of flagrantly acting unlawful, being uncooperative with investigators, stating its close association with the Chinese government and noting its potential involvement in corporate espionage. Basically these two companies are being accused of breaking the law and a subsequent cover-up.

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SAFE Web Act protects consumers, Senate should reauthorize it

When it comes to the future of electronic commerce, consumer trust and online privacy are “trending topics” that Americans care very deeply about.
 
Today, an estimated 250 million people in the United States use the Internet. And last year, e-commerce in the United States topped $200 billion for the first time. But lurking online are hackers, cyber thieves, and even organized crime rings.
 
As chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade – and as someone who is also deeply involved in both online privacy issues and consumer protection – I’m very concerned that e-commerce will cease to grow and flourish in the years ahead if Americans lose faith in their ability to be protected from online predators, jeopardizing future innovation as well as our nation’s fragile economic recovery.
 
One important tool in combating cross-border fraud, spam, and spyware is the U.S. SAFE WEB Act of 2006, which is set to expire next year.

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E-Fairness bill restores competitive balance to retail marketplace

Phil Bond's September 27 op-ed posted on The Hill's Congress Blog, Small businesses are not tax collectors, paints a misleading picture of e-fairness legislation pending before Congress. His claim that the Marketplace Equity Act in the House and Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate are "fundamentally flawed and anti-small business" is just plain false. Similarly, his assertion that these bills would require "everyone, regardless of size, to collect sales tax" is disingenuous. As Mr. Bond well knows, both bills contain a small-seller exception that would exempt small businesses from collecting sales tax. 



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FTC action against Google would be unwise

Most of us could identify things about competitive markets we find “unfair.”  I know I could. I wish that woman on eBay who keeps outbidding me for antique telephones would just go away. And I wish the Inn at Little Washington wouldn’t charge so much for its excellent dinners.

Most of us don’t think government needs to stamp out these perfectly legitimate business practices. But the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has authority from Congress to stamp out “unfair methods of competition.” And what is “unfair” is whatever a majority of commissioners say it is. Their current target, according to recent press reports, is Google.

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