I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. For AT&T and its industry compatriots, domestic spying is the gift that keeps on giving.
Today, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division announced it had filed written comments in the FCC’s Inquiry Into Broadband Industry Practices, aka lets do a wussy study on net neutrality so we can pretend we are defending the public by ‘being vigillant.’ And — surprise, surpirse, SURPRISE! — the DOJ Antiutrust division comments look like the “Cliffsnotes version” of the AT&T filing.
So to recap, in the last few weeks, we have seen top Administration officials go public with classified data to push for retroactive immunity for the telcos for domestic spying, we’ve seen AT&T admit that they “accidentally” bleeped out Pearl Jam’s anti-Bush lyrics, and now we have the DOJ Antitrust division going to the mat for their buddies at the FCC.
I tell you, in this day and age of rampant cynicism and political opportunism, it warms my heart to see the Bushies stick with their buddies through thick and thin, and to see AT&T doing the same. Never mind what it looks like! As Mirror Universe (Evil) Cartman would sing: “You guys are my best friends, through tick and thin we’ll always be together . . . I love you guys.”
Of course, it probably helps that the tiering that the telcos and cable cos want to do makes it much easier to monitor traffic via deep packet inspection, and the fact that it is an “information service” rather than a telecom service means the telcos and cable cos can do whatever they want with the data (they don’t even need to get a warrant, as they would to take advantage of CALEA). But it’s mutual self-interest like this that keeps friendships strong! This way the DOJ gets its domestic spying built into the architecture, and the cable and telcos get to fulfill their fantasies of exacting monopoly rents out of every single bit that crosses their networks (despite the collateral damage to free speech and the long term damage to the economy as a whole). But hey, a “duopoly tax” in the form of higher costs for slower speeds is a small price to pay to have surveillance equipment built directly into the network architecture — and to help a true friend.
Stay tuned . . . .
Today, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the issue of “network neutrality” — whether broadband providers such as AT&T, Comcast, and other telephone and cable companies can monitor, filter, or otherwise interfere with a subscribers use of internet services or internet content. The filing parrots the industry arguments that adopting a rule that would prevent telephone and cable companies from monitoring and filtering internet traffic would harm investment and innovation, despite mounting evidence from Europe and Asia that the opposite is true.
Harold Feld, Senior Vice President of the Media Access Project, had the following statement in response:
“It would seem that the President and the Justice Department cannot do enough for AT&T and the other companies that agreed to spy on the American people. Without network neutrality, companies are free to turn over user information without a warrant or block users from desired content — as AT&T recently did ‘accidentally’ by blocking Pearl Jam’s criticism of the President during a concert performance carried on AT&T’s broadband service.“
“Factually, the Department of Justice filing — like the industry filings it shamelessly parrots — is plain wrong. The evidence continues to show that deregulating the cable/telco duopoly has created the equivalent of a “duopoly tax” that drags down our national economy and cripples our international competitiveness in the global “knowledge economy.” Americans pay more money for less speed than businesses and citizens in comparable developed nations such as Japan, South Korea, England, or France, thanks to the policy of ’regulatory restraint’ urged in today’s DOJ filing.”
“Last year, the Department of Justice approved AT&T’s buyout of BellSouth with no conditions. In the last few weeks, we have seen the Administration go so far as to release information that it had previously declared a vital state secret to try to get the phone companies off the hook for domestic spying. Small surprise that this Justice Department once again takes the side of industry cronies rather than protects the American people.”
Contact: Harold Feld
Senior Vice President
Media Access Project