The U.S. Copyright Office has invited the public to comment on potential reforms of the DMCA “safe harbors” and the incomparable T-Bone Burnett delivered this video version of his insightful comments on DMCA abuse. (See also Billboard article on T-Bone’s comment and my 2006 post on MTP, The DMCA is Not An Alibi.) It is important […]
As President-elect Trump prepares to take office, tech behemoth Google has changed course, now trying to align itself with the incoming Republican administration after backing Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.
Watchdog.org reported extensively last year on Google’s cozy relationship with the Obama administration, from a lobbyist’s frequent visits to the White House to the number of employees who have transitioned from Google to the Obama administration and vice versa.
The company also has amped up its influence of Congress, becoming one of the most influential tech lobbyists and provider of campaign contributions in the United States.
Shortly after Trump’s win, the Mountain View, California-based company posted a listing for a conservative outreach manager, Bloomberg noted. Google sought a D.C. veteran to “act as liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups.”
No matter the ideological disposition of a company’s leadership, it’s not at all unusual for big lobbying shops to include advocates of both political parties — just in case.
Bloomberg pointed out that Trump’s position on several issues important to Google, including autonomous vehicles, telecommunications rules and antitrust concerns, is uncertain.
After meeting Kanye West, President-elect Trump will meet Google and other Silicon Valley leaders today. We’ve imagined how the conversation might go.
TRUMP: So. Peter tells me you’re the smartest guys in America. How do you like the furniture?
PAGE: Very nice Mr President Elect.
TRUMP: Where’s the Russian?
PAGE: Sergey [Brin]?
SCHMIDT: Sir, the Secret Service detained him. We warned him not to try to get into Trump Tower wearing his Google Glass, but he won’t take them off. Well. We want to thank you for inviting us to Trump Tow—
TRUMP: Let’s just cut the crap. I know you did everything you could do get Hillary [Clinton] elected. I know you worked for Obama’s team, Eric [Schmidt]. I know you hate me and I don’t care. But you have 10 minutes to tell me what you want so I can figure out how useful you can be, and how much damage you can do. Go.
PAGE: Er, right. Well. Top of our agenda is ensuring that America’s wealth-creating technology companies – that’s us – have a vital supply of top technology talent.
SCHMIDT: Mr President, as I said two years ago, ‘we take very, very smart people, bring them into the country, give them a diploma and kick them out where they go on to create companies that compete with us’.
TRUMP: What happens to those companies they create?
TRUMP: Well, hmmm.
SCHMIDT: Mr President, engineers are expensive, would you use the most expensive labour you could? Employers need to keep wages down.
TRUMP: Which of course I love. But you see, I just got elected on jobs. That’s how I won. I got 2 million fewer votes than Crooked Hillary, but I got them where it counted, right in her backyard. And you’ve created a two-caste economy. Maybe you can employ some American engineers?
SCHMIDT: Uh. In a global interconnected world, Sir, that would be…
SCHMIDT: We’ve fixed the DoJ now, Sir. We run it.
The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner has drawn censure from both sides of the political aisle, as well as a Senate hearing that looked into the potential for the combined company to become a monopoly.
But if we are going to examine media monopolies, we should look first at Silicon Valley, not the fading phone business.
Mark Cuban, the internet entrepreneur, said at the meeting of the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee last week that the truly dominant companies in media distribution these days were Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.
“Facebook is without question in a dominant position, if not the dominant position, for content delivery,” he said.
Look at the numbers. Alphabet (the parent company of Google) and Facebook are among the 10 largest companies in the world. Alphabet alone has a market capitalization of around $550 billion. AT&T and Time Warner combined would be about $300 billion.
Emboldened by its success with net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may be looking to shake up the way you enjoy media at home. At the behest of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, on February 18, 2016, the agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) about television set-top boxes. The proposal passed 3-2 on a party line vote, with the Democrats in favor and the Republicans opposed. The proposal—which would require cable companies to open access to set-top box technology to foster competition—has proved controversial, drawing commentary and debate from a wide spectrum of stakeholders. Very recently, it has met with criticism and opposition even among those who initially sponsored it, despite an eleventh hour compromise attempt by Chairman Wheeler. The agency has now taken the set-top box proposal off the agenda until next year….
[Editor Charlie sez: No more White House Spotify playlists?]
Team Trump has announced the composition of the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum – and there’s no place for internet oligarchs like Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos or the world’s fifth-richest man, Mark Zuckerberg.
Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch has a seat, as does Ginni Rometty, head of everything at IBM. The forum is headed by Stephen A Schwarzman, co-founder of private equity giant Blackstone.
“The panel will be a strong voice on Team Trump for corporate America and the interests of the 1 per cent,” writes Larry Kumer of the Fabius Maximus blog, noting that for a populist President-elect, there’s no representation for organised labour.
But it’s not merely corporate – that much can be expected from a CEO President-elect. DC sources tell us that Trump’s antipathy towards Big Internet is based on jobs. A second Trump term depends on jobs growth; while internet companies such as Amazon, Google and Uber destroy jobs, manufacturing industries create them.
It’s a sign of which corporations Team Trump thinks can generate jobs. Outgoing President Obama couldn’t get enough of Big Internet, and today many agencies reflect Google’s agenda. The Google Transparency project has documented the busy revolving door between DC and Mountain View, and the amount of Google-friendly policy activity has become frantic in recent months. Examples include ripping up the rules for TV licensing – which proved too much even for the Democrat FCC Commissioner with the swing vote to approve – and locking the Register of Copyright out of her office.
President-elect Trump has made it clear that he is more than a little hostile towards the FCC’s implementation of net neutrality, both in his own words and, today, the appointment of two long-time adversaries of the policy to his transition team.
Jeffrey Eisenach is an economist and government veteran who worked at the FTC in the ’80s; he’s worked for a number of think tanks and research institutes that transmute industry money into custom expert critique, and under their auspices was a vocal opponent of the FCC’s current net neutrality rules….
Eisenach described net neutrality as “an effort by one set of private interests to enrich itself by using the power of the state to obtain free services from another” in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2014. He suggested ISPs have no reason to discriminate between services, and they engender innovation rather than stifle it.