FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Tech at Night: Cybersecurity, Retransmission Consent, Challenging Mike Lee on Google Antitrust
So, Cybersecurity. I’ve spent so much time talking about why the Lieberman-Collins Cybersecurity bill in the Senate is terrible, and anti-PROTECT IP champion Ron Wyden has taken up the opposition as well, but there is need for some enhanced ability of government to coordinate against and to attack Internet security threats.
Here’s a Reddit post that should scare people about the kinds of ongoing criminal enterprises that are out there, online, worldwide. Here’s the kind of research that demonstrates the need of the good guys to be open and to collaborate. Think about what happens when (not if) the technology that goes into these cash cow botnets (some run by Anonymous) instead goes into spying (some done by Wikileaks) and into terrorism (some done by Anonymous).
Cybersecurity is, on some level, easy to understand as an issue. We know there are people online who break into computers. Retransmission Consent is a tricker issue, as it’s regulatory inside baseball between local broadcasters and local cable providers. Two heavily regulated industries battle it out over a fine point of policy. It’s hard for a conservative to grapple with it, sometimes.
But I’m going to disagree with with this post by Gordon Smith and call television broadcasters the new manufacturers of buggy whips. Right now they’re still important for some people, to be sure, in the same way that some people will use a land line phone instead of wireless Internet to stay connected.
But younger people are moving away from it. “Broadcast-only” is a misleading term. I’m in that category, but not because I watch broadcast television. I watch pay TV. It’s just called Hulu, not cable.
Further, I doubt that broadcasters really are the best source of information anymore most of the time. People are using the Internet more and more without having a cord in the home to bring it in. iPhones, Android phones, and yes even Windows phones, are collectively taking over the phone market. In so doing they also take over the information market at home.
This is why it’s wrong to maintain the current retransmission consent rules, and why it’s wrong to try to block spectrum incentive auctions to encourage the shifting of spectrum from broadcasters to wireless Internet providers. Even if we thought it was legitimate for government to try to prop up broadcasters instead of opening the market, it’s pointless to have government stand athwart what the people actually want to spend their money on, yelling stop. We’ll just get run over, and hinder innovation in the progress.
I’m not at all surprised that Democrat Herb Kohl would side with Eurocrats against an American company, but Mike Lee disappoints me when he joins in a foreign Jihad against Google. Mike Lee, despite the TEA party roots that got him into office, seems very eager to bring down big government against businesses he doesn’t like. Or maybe it’s just Google? He bears watching.
Because, let’s be clear. Antitrust action against Google is as dumb and wrong as antitrust action against Microsoft was. Microsoft was winning at the time because Microsoft’s competition in the browser field was lousy. Yes, Netscape was terrible. That’s why it failed and the source code had to be given away just to keep Netscape Navigator and friends afloat. Netscape Navigator wasn’t great software. That’s why the Mozilla project threw it all away and rewrote it. That’s why MS Internet Explorer succeeded.
All the antitrust action you wanted was never going to change that. It’s only now, when there are several viable browsers around, that MSIE is losing its dominant position, and in fact soon will likely be replaced by Google’s Chrome as the world’s leading browser, though Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox are also there, and matter.
And note: government told us that MSIE dominance was a threat that had to be regulated. So it’s about to be replaced, a victory for the competitive market, and now government is attacking the replacement, too? Internet technology is innovative and fast paced. Government trying to pick winners and losers is just ignorant, as well as wrong.
In the SOPA debate, the left and right agreed that government decision makers were too ignorant to make these decisions. They’re not suddenly more educated just because it’s antitrust, or just because it’s Google.
The big tech antitrust cases boil down to our government “betters” wagging their fingers and saying “No, no, you’re choosing wrongly!”
And now it’s full circle: The FCC, apparently under Republican pressure, is looking to save LightSquared. This is after LightSquared collapsed after FCC’s denial of a license to use its spectrum for a terrestrial 4G network.
La Raza and NAACP think it’s unfair and probably call it racist that phone service given to violent felons costs more than that given to honest, decent people.
$15 billion lawsuit against Facebook? Is IPO chasing the new ambulance chasing?
ISPs delayed in their pro-copyright plans. Cue the Net Neutrality police, since discriminating against illegal or abusive activity is, you know, discriminatory.