Color of Change is at it again

Color of Change is back, bigger and better than ever. I love their new website. It’s bolder and blacker.

Too bad their position on AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile USA is not.

Color of Change argues that allowing T-Mobile USA to disappear from the wireless landscape will create a duopoly comprised of AT&T and Verizon. This new alliance between telecom’s version of the Dark Lords of the Sith would mean reduced access to wireless broadband by black folks and make an already weak wireless net neutrality policy even weaker.

I’m not surprised that Color of Change continues to fail public policy 101 by failing to show any correlation between this proposed acquisition and net neutrality.

Also, antitrust law does not guarantee that all companies must survive in a competitive environment. Why should the FCC practice invasive policy to save one wireless company whose very own parent, Deutsche Telekom, is practically giving up for dead.

Also, all this whining over whether there will be a duopoly left after the acquisition closes shows Color of Change’s disregard for American, free market economics.

First of all, there is currently an oligopoly in the American wireless market and there will be an oligopoly in the American wireless market after the transaction closes.

Second, if T-Mobile is such a value player in the wireless market, a new entrant will fill the vacuum left by T-Mobile’s exit.

Oh, oh. I forgot. Because of the onerous net neutrality policy supported by Color of Change, it means one more regulatory barrier to hurdle before a new competitor can start serving T-Mobile’s customers. Thanks a lot, Color of Change.

If Color of Change is really concerned about serving the consumer needs of our people, it would encourage a regulatory environment that supports market disruption followed by market entry.

Come on. How is Comcast stopping my message?

Critics of the proposed Comcast and NBC Universal joint venture have been making the argument that such an arrangement, between a large distributor of video programming and other content and a large content provider, would dampen our ability to fully participate in our great democracy.

I agree that the public should remain suspect of the media and its influence on our ability to keep government accountable. The traditional and major news sources also spend too much time being duplicative. ABC gives me the same old information that CBS gives me. I mean, how many times do I have to hear that the captain of the Enterprise got busted or that John Boehner is a cry baby. The information they provide does not appear very diverse.

And yes, there are a small number of large news organizations that appear to have a lock on the voices being heard on the airwaves. The alphabet soup includes CNN, MSNBC, FOX, CNBC, and Bloomberg.

But even with an apparent dearth of news outlets, am I ready to throw in the towel on democracy? Of course not.

There is no lack of information. There is a dearth of citizen accountability for going after information. We choose and find excuses for being spoon-fed. If we can’t get the news and a Katie Couric smile in 24 minutes, we move on to Facebook and end up spending more than 24 minutes on-line. Between the libraries of our state universities and our public libraries, we have access to lots of information about how our government runs.

With the information that we glean from alternative sources, we can resort to the tried and true methods of message transmission, letter writing, phone calls, and personal visits, to influence the policy decisions of our representatives. The hang-up that critics like Free Press have is really not with democracy. It’s with the use of one medium, namely the Internet, by content providers.

The Internet is sexy, and gets sexier with every new app, blog, and social media network that gets its hooks into it. It’s the fear of “gatekeepers” like Comcast relegating these content providers to the back of the bus and forcing them to pay to play that has critics scared. They could care less about our ability to impact our representative government as long as the pipes on the Internet are clear enough to allow them to send out their messages.

In an information society with access to probably too much information, the real threat to democracy is not whether Comcast will allow me to go to Color of Change’s website. It’s whether Americans will take the time to pursue good information, no matter the source of the content or distribution, and use it.

The FCC, paid prioritization, and the Vulcan mind meld

I am digging deeper into the Federal Communications Commission’s rationale for its net neutrality order and quite frankly I am starting to feel like the character Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series. Every now and then, Mr. Spock would engage in a mind meld with another being in order to read their thoughts. This usually involved placing his fingers on their heads and getting real close to them. “My mind to your mind” I believe was the phrase.

The problem with the mind meld was that for a very rational Mr. Spock, prolonged contact with an erratic or irrational mind could result in him being dragged down into the psychotic abyss of the other being, with Mr. Spock running the risk of totally losing his own sense of self. The trick was to break free at the last possible second. So as the music built up to a crescendo, Captain Kirk or Dr. McCoy would intervene and pull Mr. Spock away from his subject. Made for good TV, I admit.

Unfortunately the FCC did not break free from its mind meld with net neutrality supporters and this is not TV.

Specifically, the FCC’s rationale for its anti-paid prioritization stance is baseless. In its net neutrality report and order, the FCC states that broadband access providers have incentives to charge providers of edge services inefficient fees.

Edge service providers would be companies that sell online file storage services, video streaming, and access to applications online.

Too bad the FCC’s mind melding with groups like Free Press and Color of Change has led to a revisionist view of regulatory economics 101 and a contradiction of how the FCC views broadband.

The FCC states in the order that “[L]ike electricity and the computer, the Internet is a “general purpose technology.“ General purpose technology is just a fancy way of saying raw material. If that is the case, then why won’t the FCC follow the model of public utility commissions that regulate electric companies?

Electric companies are allowed to assess rates based on whether the user is residential, commercial, or industrial. If the FCC is going to regulate how a broadband provider handles its traffic, why not allow broadband access providers and edge services providers to enter paid prioritization agreements, setting in effect higher rates in exchange for the flow of greater traffic?

Instead of following a clear, true, and tried model of regulation that balances the reality of a monopoly or duopoly provider with the varying levels of end user needs, the FCC prefers to espouse an unfocused and irrational train of thought espoused by a small group of content providers with a limited and harmful agenda.

It’s time to break the mind meld.

In response to Lets ensure Internet access for all

I enjoyed Mr. Sutphen’s well thought-out and insightful piece. Color of Change and other advocates for net neutrality never discuss increasing consumer access to the Internet and the World Wide Web. Focusing on whether a civil rights organization got a donation from a phone company distracts us from the two main issues that are pertinent to African American consumers: the ability to access the Internet at an affordable price and the value of access to our economic, political, and personal well being.

Net neutrality advocates have yet to provide a detailed and elementary description of how this proposed regulatory policy will lead to job creation and increased consumer welfare. How does net neutrality ensure my access to information at a price I can afford? If Color of Change is advocating for black people, shouldn’t we hear them drive home these arguments daily?

Instead, it always boils down to an eclectic bunch of media content creators expressing a distaste for paying the cost of doing business on the Internet.

While Bobby Rush defends against computer fingerprinting, Color of Change no where to be found

Posted December 1st, 2010 in computer fingerprinting, Cyberspace, Internet, privacy and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

The Wall Street Journal today has an interesting article on computer fingerprinting, where a number of firms collect identifying information transmitted by your computer. These firms put the collected data into a database and sell this information to advertisers and other companies that wish to combat fraud.

The practice, according to the Journal, is legal. U.S. Representative Bobby Rush, Democrat of Illinois, introduced legislation this past summer that would allow consumers to opt out of this type of data gathering.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the overly dramatic concerns of the privacy police. If you don’t want it out there then get offline, but I can admire representatives like Mr. Rush who can seek out a reasonable alternative that can keep consumers and business happy. He puts his money where his mouth is, unlike some of his critics such as Free Press and Color of Change.

I painstakingly visited the websites of these two slef-vaunted protectors of the little media man to see if they published any positions against the fingerprinting practice. Guess what. Not a bleep. A big no response from the very critics accusing Mr. Rush of not being able to provide leadership on broadband and Internet issues.

A lack of response from you guys is almost criminal. Somebody get the ink and give me your fingers Color of Change, starting with your left thumb.