Etsy is an Internet hub for the third-party sale of goods and crafts. The company has been exceedingly active in pushing for Net Neutrality at the FCC.

It did so by stepping into the little guy’s shoes, ostensibly championing his / her costly, uphill plight, decrying in one such agency filing that “strong rules” would “enable startups, and most importantly the small businesses who depend on Internet platforms, to start and grow their businesses.

Etsy's Althea Erickson making the "little guy" plea for Net Neutrality last year at the FCC.

Etsy’s Althea Erickson making the “little guy” plea for Net Neutrality last year at the FCC.

Another filing in which little ‘ole Etsy took part points out the classic small guy rub – that is, “that most smaller companies—even international brand names—have no lawyers or a very small number of lawyers, usually none of whom are telecommunications law experts.”  Consequently, “fair” Internet access can never be achieved for these types of businesses.

So, putting on its little guy Birkenstocks – with the aid of only a small number of non-telecom lawyers – Etsy urged the Commission to issue public utility rules that befuddle even the world’s largest corporations in order to help small companies.

Problem is, the rules apply to the whole Internet ecosystem – little guys included.

Within a week after the FCC published its Net neutrality rules in the Federal Register this April, Etsy filed for an IPO. Currently, the company’s valued at over a billion dollars.

A few days ago, Bloomberg had an interesting story, entitled “Etsy Taps Secret Irish Tax Haven and Brags About Transparency at Home.” The story notes:

Artisan goods marketplace Etsy Inc., which promised to be a beacon for transparency as a public company, recently implemented a strategy that shrouds its offshore tax-cutting arrangements in secrecy.

Because of a change in how its Irish subsidiary is registered, Etsy no longer needs to publicly disclose basic financial information about that unit. The classification designates the business in Ireland as an unlimited liability company — a move that’s been used by corporations such as Google Inc. and LinkedIn Corp., enabling them to conceal how profits are shifted to zero-tax locales such as Bermuda or Isle of Man.

So much for the little guy schtick, eh?

At the behest of powerful Silicon Valley companies, the FCC built a Net Neutrality bubble. It was never meant for the little guy, however – that spin always being a straight-up prevarication to get the rules enacted into law. Exploiting complicit beards like Etsy, Silicon Valley’s biggest companies (a.k.a. Google, Facebook, etc.) tooled the Commission to install regulations they knew would be costly. But, they were costs that they could easily handle because they erected a protective mote, preventing inconvenient, disruptive competition…

…which often comes from true little guys.

Beware of beards. Sound public policy almost never results when such less-than-transparent tactics prevail.  In this case, Net Neutrality means that little guys who want to succeed on the Internet can’t use tools like prioritized agreements to gain competitive advantage over well-healed incumbents.

It means keeping the little guy little.

Here’s to hoping that the federal court hearing the appeal of those rules in December gives the FCC a good haircut and shave.

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Obamanet Gets a Court Date

by Mike Wendy on August 17, 2015

Crovitz outlines some of the strongest arguments against Obamanet.

Crovitz highlights some of the strongest arguments against Obamanet.

Wall Street Journal’s L. Gordon Crovitz has a good write-up / general summary today of the legal arguments in the federal court appeal against ObamaNet (a.k.a. Net Neutrality), scheduled for December 4, 2015. As Crovitz sees it, the case is about whether permissionless innovation which built the Internet can continue, or whether regulators can come in, take over and strangle the Internet with stultifying rules and mandates. He concludes, perhaps reluctantly, that it’s up to the federal courts “to rescue Silicon Valley from the destructive hand of Washington politics and regulation.”

(For further reading, see the amicus briefs / links of market-based groups TechFreedomCEIFree State Foundation with ICLECBiT and Phoenix Center)

I’m not a big fan of going to the courts to settle disputes, but it seems that that is unavoidable here. Back in 1996, Congress directed the FCC to keep its 1934 paws off of the Internet. Sadly, the FCC has gone rogue and has essentially rewritten the statute to allow it to reguate the entire Internet against Congress’ will. A legislative “solution” doesn’t seem do-able until at least after the ’16 elections.

The December 4th appeal is the first step in rectifying the FCC’s Net Neutrality mess. Let’s hope it goes well – positive developments there will better shape how the Supreme Court, FCC, Congress and / or a new administration addresses the issue going forward.

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is recommending that the $49 billion purchase by AT&T of DirectTV go through. But, not without some conditions placed upon AT&T, which include: stronger Net Neutrality rules, such as more restrictions to prevent discrimination against online video competition, and submission of all completed interconnection agreements to the agency; greater gigabit / fiber buildout requirements; and an independent “compliance officer” to ensure that the company doesn’t slide on its deal with the FCC.

AT&T "agrees" to FCC merger conditions.  Americans lose because the free market is subverted once again by the corrupt merger shakedown.

AT&T “agrees” to FCC conditions. Americans lose because the free market is subverted once again by the corrupt purchase / merger approval shakedown.

It is expected that the DoJ will formally approve the deal soon, too.

I have written extensively on this before, so I won’t belabor this point. Reports have it that AT&T “agreed” to all the concessions. Agreed like a hold up. The purchase / merger approval process is a common tactic whereby the FCC (and other agencies) exploit the proposed transaction, and get public policy “wins” – oftentimes unrelated to the direct matter at hand – that it otherwise couldn’t achieve either through the legislative or open rulemaking process.

It is “legal” extortion, which strips the free marketplace out of the picture and supplants it with the “all knowing eyes” of unelected bureaucrats. It is a recipe for unsustainable bubble building. It is a recipe corruption. It is a recipe for arbitrary and capricious rule, which is tyranny.

The American public should kindly help the FCC “agree” to stop this harmful process.

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Poor ole T-Mobile has been spinning a good yarn of late. Its CEO, John Legere, has been singing the little guy blues, demanding that the FCC set aside more “beach front,” low-band spectrum in the upcoming spectrum auction so that its main competitors, AT&T and Verizon, won’t get it. Recently, the FCC has indicated it isn’t going to take T-Mo’s bait and appears to be sticking to its guns by setting aside “only” 30 MHz of spectrum, which AT&T and Verizon can’t bid on, instead of the 40 MHz advocated by T-Mo and the “smaller” mobile carrier industry.  The vote on the plan isn’t until the middle of this month.  So, this could change because the agency is under an immense amount of lobbying pressure from T-Mo, as well as other self-labled, “disadvantaged” wireless carriers.

FatCat2

T-Mo tries to sell its “little guy” story, but it’s as fat a cat as they get here in Washington.

Anyway, let’s dispense with T-Mo’s po’ mouthin’ right now. The company is a fat cat. It doesn’t need Uncle Sam’s help to compete in the wireless space.

Presently, T-Mo’s market cap is $31 billion.

Its parent, Deutsche Telekom, has a market cap of $78 billion.

According to Soros-funded Sunlight Foundation,

German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom, which owns the fourth largest U.S. mobile network provider, T-Mobile USA, spent more money lobbying the U.S. government than any other foreign interest in 2013.

The $11.8 million budget that Deutsche Telekom reported to the Department of Justice put it at the top of a list that included many American firms…”

Take a look at this document from the Federal Election Commission, which shows that over the years T-Mo’s PAC has made has hundreds-upon-hundreds of PAC contributions to legislators and other PACs.

And, check out this document, pulled from the U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, which reveals T-Mo’s truly massive stable of former and present lobbyists to do its bidding – for things like trying to influence the FCC so that the agency can kneecap T-Mo’s competitors.

Finally, while T-Mo’s Legere crudely tells the little guy that he’s waging battle to save the industry from extinction (or something like that), go to YouTube and see what the company’s telling Wall Street – that is, it’s a vibrant, healthy and growing market leader.

Different story, eh? You bet.

"Small" carrier industry rep Steve Berry at a congressional briefing this spring, crying for more spectrum for his "disadvantaged" companies.

“Small” wireless carrier industry rep Steve Berry at a congressional briefing this spring, crying for more spectrum to subsidize his “disadvantaged” member companies.

The so-called “uncarrier” is about as entrenched in the Washington influence game as any other big corporation here. What it’s asking the FCC to do is simply rig the deck in its favor. This “fighting for the little guy” stuff is a sham. It is a huge corporation wanting to make tons of money for its huge German parent corporation.

As one publication put it, T-Mo isn’t going to suffer any hardship if the FCC doesn’t set aside more spectrum than they already are, “…they just aren’t getting the even sweeter deal that they were pushing for.”

The FCC shouldn’t play favorites. T-Mo – get your paddle ready and bid like the fat cat you really are.

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All Along the FCC Watchtower

June 24, 2015

With Net Neutrality rules now the law of the land, it’s become silly season for those seeking their pound of flesh from a variety of players in the Internet ecosystem. “Complaints” and requests to have the Commission fix a variety of Net Neutrality “violations” have already started arriving at the agency, less than two-weeks after […]

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The Purposely Innumerate FCC

June 23, 2015

Last week, the FCC used its 2010 Net Neutrality transparency rule to fine AT&T $100 million for impairing the speeds of its grandfathered, unlimited mobile data plan users without apparently offering proper notice to them. Without getting too far into the weeds, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai thinks the FCC is totally off-base here with its […]

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Mozilla Typifies The Post-Net Neutrality Downfall

June 16, 2015

I wrote this piece – Mozilla Typifies The Post-Net Neutrality Downfall – which appeared last week in the Daily Caller. _____ For most companies, competing is tough. To do it well, you need to have all the tools you can to beat the others in the marketplace. But Mozilla, proprietor of the open source Firefox […]

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Statement: DC Circuit Court Denies Net Neutrality Stay, but the Order Will Ultimately Fail Court Scrutiny

June 11, 2015

The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, President of MediaFreedom.org: Alexandria, VA, June 11, 2015 – MediaFreedom is disappointed that the DC Circuit chose not stay the FCC’s radical Net Neutrality Order today. Consequently, the agency’s “clear” 400-page rule will go into effect, and remain so, until at least resolution of the current […]

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I Want My Broadband Pizza Coupon, FCC!

June 10, 2015

I bought a frozen pizza at my local supermarket the other day. It made me think of the President’s new Net Neutrality rules. As is common in most supermarkets, the cashier at checkout handed me a promo coupon with my receipt (pictured below). Like many, I participate in the store’s discount club, wherein I type […]

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Video: FCC’s Perfect, Anti-First Amendment Storm to Control Internet Content, with Fred Campbell

June 5, 2015

The Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology’s Fred Campbell believes the FCC is pulling a fast one over ISPs (and Americans’ liberty) by unconstitutionally compelling third-party access to ISP mass media distribution systems / networks, and in denying ISPs their First Amendment rights to exert editorial control over their networks, by, among other things, banning […]

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