@musictechpolicy:Google Targeting Judiciary Ranking Member Position as Conyers Steps Down

Who can forget Zoe Lofgren, the Member from San Mateo (aka Google) who is currently the #3 most senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee?  You may remember Ms. Lofgren’s scorched earth campaign against Maria Pallante, the former head of the Copyright Office who I think was the subject of a retaliatory termination by the Librarian of Congress.  Lofgren’s campaign went absolutely nowhere and has been on the side of monopoly power emanating from Silicon Valley her entire career.  Which company does she favor with unwavering loyalty?

You guessed it–the Leviathan of Mountain View, the multibillion dollar multinational monopolist, Lessig’s long-time benefactor and funder of a host of NGOs–Google.  Google wants control of the House Judiciary Committee through their influence over Lofgren.

The current Ranking Member is Rep. John Conyers who has resigned his position as Ranking Member after harassment allegations and some allegations of misuse of funds to settle sexual harassment claims (which are coincidentally also surfacing or resurfacing about top Google executives like Andy Rubin, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and, of course, the notorious “serial womanizer” Eric “Uncle Sugar” Schmidt).  This leaves the Ranking Member seat open, although Rep. Jerry Nader is next in line in seniority, you know, like “Ranking Member” implies.  Rep. Nadler has long been a staunch ally of the little guy, especially our legacy artists on pre-72 recordings that Google made it their mission to screw over through their price fixing cartel and Lofgren pals, the MIC Coalition.

MIC Coaltion 8-15
Google’s MIC Coalition

This is nothing new, of course, as Lofgren has been measuring the curtains for a long time, way before the Conyers story came out.  Lofgren didn’t make any friends in her attacks on Maria Pallante after the House overcame the Google smear operation that Lofgren led in the House and voted 378-48 in favor of taking away the Librarian of Congress’s power to appoint the next Register.  (Even so, Google has been effective in stalling the Senate version of the bill despite Lofgren’s lopsided loss).

For recent historical reasons, the position of Ranking Member is not automatically filled by the most senior member of the applicable party.   That position now requires a vote of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, which Nadler will surely win when his acting position comes for a vote by his colleagues–but–the Member from Google reminded members of her caucus that she wanted the gig real bad in a November 29 letter:

“Whenever an official vacancy at the top Democratic position of the Judiciary Committee may occur in accordance with Caucus Rules, I will put my credentials forward for my colleagues’ consideration.

I am confident that, as a 23-year veteran of the Committee with nearly 9 years of prior staff service, I fully meet all the criteria for the position as outlined in Caucus Rule 21.  That rule states that, in selecting a successor to a Ranking Member vacancy, the Democratic Caucus ‘shall consider all relevant factors, including merit, length of service on the committee and degree of commitment to the Democratic agenda, and the diversity of the Caucus,’ and that the top Committee position “need not necessarily follow seniority.”

But Ryan Grim and Lee Fang writing in the Intercept crystalize Lofgren’s problem:

Had Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., then well into his 80s, retired from Congress, Lofgren would have been well-positioned to claim the top-ranking seat on the Judiciary Committee. Yet he ran for re-election. Again. And again. And again.

He stayed so long that Lofgren’s brand of Silicon Valley politics is now past its expiration date, her once virtuous alliance with the forces of progress and innovation curdling into a protection racket for increasingly unpopular monopolies.

Conyers on Sunday announced he is stepping down as the top-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, launching a battle for his successor that has pitted two Democratic rivals — Lofgren and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. — against each other. On the one hand, his resignation comes in a politically fortuitous way for Lofgren, with Conyers felled not by age but by allegations of sexual harassment. The political logic of replacing him with a woman is obvious. But then there’s Google.

The race for committee chair threatens to become the first fight over monopoly politics after the rollout of House Democrats’ “Better Deal” platform for 2018, which was built on going after concentrated power, particularly in the tech sector. Elected to Congress in 1994, Lofgren represents San Jose and the Bay Area, and is far and away the most stalwart defender of big Silicon Valley firms among House Democrats.

“It certainly may raise questions to have someone from Silicon Valley in a position where one of the key responsibilities is to oversee the conduct of Silicon Valley,” said Jonathan Kanter, a prominent antitrust attorney.

The problem that The Intercept put their finger on is that very few–and I mean very, very few–in the Congressional leadership believes that the whole SOPA dustup was for real and was instead one of the worst cases of astroturf ever perpetrated against a legislative body and its shell shocked staff.  Lofgren associated herself with that assault and has been heard to bring it up as a threat that sounds more hollow by the day.

What we have to realize though is that even if Rep. Nadler–who is one of the truest blue progressives in the Congress–gets the Ranking Member position, in my view Lofgren clearly has her marching orders and will not stop until she’s told to stand down.  Her supporters clearly have a lot of cash to hand out and are feeling the consequences of the election which severely curtailed their influence in the Executive Branch.  And one of the ways that members get influence is not only raising money for themselves, but having the ability to raise money for other members or their party.

 

@andreworlowski: Lucky Canada. Google chooses Toronto as site of posthuman urban lab. Town has an API, but no cars

[Editor Charlie sez: Welcome to the Goo town–the end of privacy.  This is how they force you to get rid of independent travel.]

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

16 Tons, written by Merle Travis

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs venture has chosen Toronto as its urban laboratory – one in which humans may ultimately be optional.

Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff has fantasised how convenient a city would be without people.

Google won’t take over the entire city – at least not just yet. It’s opted to redevelop 12 acres of the the city’s waterfront, with 800 acres sitting idle next door – a space the size of Venice. Sidewalk describes it as “the first neighbourhood from the internet up” and “a neighbourhood built as an urban innovation platform”, one that will be “a fully Google-fied neighbourhood” in the words of WiReD mag, which admits that there’s an element of “Minority Report” dystopia to the plans.

Data rules in the Googlezone, with everything monitored and analysed. It’s what Google calls “the programmable public realm”.

“Building on a robust system of asset monitoring, Sidewalk can make areas of the public realm reservable for a wide range of temporary uses without impinging on the public’s overall needs,” the company burbles. Following the modern urban prejudice against automobiles, only self-driving vehicles (“taxibots” and “vanbots”) and car-sharing rides will be permitted in the Googlezone. But it will have an API.

Read the post on The Register

@nancyscola & @liszhou: Patent Office Director Michelle Lee resigns

[Ex head of patents at Google and] U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee has resigned, administration sources confirm to POLITICO….

Lee’s appointment by Obama — after a two-year vacancy in the post — was seen at the time as something of a coup for the technology industry, given her background at Google. There have long been tensions between Silicon Valley and the pharmaceutical industry over the office’s handling of patents.

During his confirmation hearing in January to be Trump’s pick to head the Commerce Department, Ross praised aspects of Lee’s tenure, in particular her navigation of potential conflicts of interest with Google, her former employer of nearly a decade….

The following month, a coalition of industry groups and tech companies — including Google, Facebook and Amazon — encouraged Trump to retain Lee as director. “We have been very pleased with the leadership of Director Lee, who has been committed to making sure that the USPTO creates the maximum economic benefit for American inventors and businesses,” the letter read.

Read the post on The Politico

@TuscaloosaJohn: Having backed the losing candidate, Google now tries to align with Trump

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.

RELATED: Visitor logs show Google’s unrivaled White House access   

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.

RELATED: Google, telecom rivals spend big on lobbying and lawmakers

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.

Read the post on Watchdog.org

@PeggyMcGlone: Congressional panel calls for independent Copyright Office

Federal lawmakers are calling for an independent Copyright Office that would be led by a Register nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday released the first in what is expected to be a series of reforms. They suggest keeping a newly independent office in the Legislative branch, and funding technology upgrades including a searchable, digital database of historical and current copyright ownership.

Coming on the heels of the resignation of Copyright Register Maria Pallante, and previous suggestions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the proposals set up a show-down between Congress and new librarian Carla D. Hayden over the future of the agency.

Read the post on The Washington Post

NY Times Op-Ed Blasts Political Favoritism in Antitrust Enforcement at Expense of Creators — The Trichordist

In today’s NY Times, Jon Taplin of USC notes the continuing lopsided antitrust enforcement by Obama administration (and previous Bush administration). Traditional media companies (and also songwriters) are held to much higher standards while politically connected Silicon Valley monopolies like Google and Facebook get a free pass. This drives down revenues to creators […]

via NY Times Op-Ed Blasts Political Favoritism in Antitrust Enforcement at Expense of Creators — The Trichordist

@jonathantaplin: Forget AT&T. The Real Monopolies Are Google and Facebook.

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.

Read the Post on The New York Times