From 6PM-730PM tonight (Thursday, May 23), I'm presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry -- and what we can do about it. It's part of the LA Public Library's "Book to Action" program and it's free to attend -- I hope to see you there!
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Back in August, I gave the closing keynote at the second Decentralized Web Summit, entitled "Big Tech's problem is Big, not Tech; the Internet Archive released video right afterwards, but now they've cleaned up the video and rereleased it for your viewing pleasure.
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There was a time when monopolistic control over sectors of the US economy was vigorously checked through antitrust enforcement, but the neoliberal ideology of the Chicago economists (Milton Friedman et al) has eroded competition in America by convincing regulators that monopolies only need to be policed under very specific (and almost unheard-of) circumstances.
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The Arepa Lady started as a food-cart in Jackson Heights, Queens, owned by Maria Cano, whose son and daughter-in-law have continued the family business, moving into permanent digs, with seating for 30. Read the rest
US businesses really get screwed by their ISPs: 73% of the US only has one business ISP; 24% of the remainder has only two ISPs, and only 3% of the US has 3 or more ISPs that will sell them internet access. Read the rest
Comcast enjoys an effective monopoly over internet service in Vermont and it's about to get an 11-year extension to its permit to use billions of dollars' worth of public rights of way in the state, and in return, the state has asked Comcast to roll out at least 550 miles of new cable for "under-served" Vermonters over the 11 years. Read the rest
[UPDATE 9/1/17 1:50pm PT: Read this email from Google’s vice president of global communications, Rob Shilkin, to Hill, which is at the bottom of the Gizmodo article. In the email, Shilkin tells Hill that Google "had nothing to do with removing the article from the cache...we couldn’t and wouldn’t engage in this type of behavior - never have, never will."]
Google's influence at a supposedly independent think tank it funds was exposed this week when staffers critical of the company were fired. But Kashmir Hill reports that there's nothing new about Google's ruthless treatment of critics in the press.
...I was pressured to unpublish a critical piece about Google’s monopolistic practices after the company got upset about it. In my case, the post stayed unpublished.
After joining Forbes as a writer, she learned from a meeting with Google salespeople that sites refusing to add the Google Plus +1 buttons to their sites would "suffer" in search results.
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After the meeting, I approached Google’s public relations team ...The press office confirmed it, though they preferred to say the Plus button “influences the ranking.” They didn’t deny what their sales people told me: If you don’t feature the +1 button, your stories will be harder to find with Google. ...
Google never challenged the accuracy of the reporting. Instead, a Google spokesperson told me that I needed to unpublish the story because the meeting had been confidential, and the information discussed there had been subject to a non-disclosure agreement between Google and Forbes.
Monopolies are a well-documented drain on the economy, holding back growth and raising prices to the benefit of the 1% and the detriment of everyone else, and for 100 years, the Democratic party was the party of anti-monopoly, fighting for vigorous anti-trust enforcement, trade unionism, and decentralized power. Read the rest
In 1977 Richard Posner (then a prof at the University of Chicago's notorious ultra-libertarian school; now a federal judge) teamed up with an economist and law student to form Lexecon, which has since grown to a firm worth more than $130,000,000, whose major business is to serve as intellectual guns-for-hire who will produce plausible-seeming economic models defending giant corporate mergers against anti-trust regulators. Read the rest
Elizabeth Warren is on fire in this speech at a New America Open Markets conference on monopolies this week in DC; Senator Warren is pitiless, lucid and laser focused on the way that corruption creates monopolies, and monopolies suborn corruption. Read the rest
Cable One CEO Thomas Might boasted to investors that his company pulled down prospective customers' FICO scores and used them to determine the kind of service they'd extend to them, with "hollow value" customers (those with poor credit) getting less service. Read the rest
From The Economist to the White House Council of Economic Advisers to Goldman Sachs itself, the staunchest supporters of capitalism are worried about the consistently high profit margins in key industries, especially finance. Read the rest
Charter Communications plans to acquire Time Warner Cable in a $78.7bn deal. The acquisition follows an earlier attempt by Comcast to buy TWC, a plan foiled by regulators worried about lack of competition in the market for high-speed internet.
The combined company will be the second-largest U.S. cable operator and the largest in Southern California. It will be the third-largest pay TV company in the U.S. behind Comcast and the planned AT&T-DirecTV. It would be the biggest player in such major markets as New York and L.A. Overall, the combined cable company would have 23.9 million total subscribers in 41 markets, compared with Comcast’s roughly 27 million customer relations as of the end of the first quarter.
Tl;dr together they will account for 34 percent of the US cable market, and still not be as big as that beast, Comcast, with 42 percent. Read the rest