Attempts to identify the culprits in a rotten system
One thing that continues to fascinate is the ability of wealthy companies to make justice more perverse than it already is. A couple of days ago we showed that Microsoft is capable of escaping strong criticism thanks to business partners, insiders, and proxies. This intrigues. There are many more examples in the past year's news (please do read the cited examples to convince yourself that there is a clear pattern).
It is curious to find that Thomas Barnett from the Department of Justice still appears to be protective of monopolies without proper explanations. Here is the most recent example.
Barnett is the same official who recently argued against the need for a lengthier period of government oversight on Microsoft’s antitrust agreement with the government. Also under his tenure, the megamerger of AT&T and BellSouth received unconditional approval from his agency, although it did propose conditions on AT&T’s recent purchase of the rural wireless carrier Dobson Communications
It is worth emphasising that AT&T has had its own share of abuses. Looking at the past few months alone, here are 5 arguably disturbing examples:
It looks like Pearl Jam isn’t the only band that has had its politically charged comments bleeped from concerts streamed from AT&T’s Blue Room Web
AT&T quickly apologized for the incident and blamed the company that handles the Webcasting for performances on Blue Room.
A federal court in San Francisco has decided that AT&T’s wireless contract is “unconscionable”.
AT&T announced earlier this year that was planning to introduce content filtering of some sort for all video passing across its network. Exactly what AT&T was thinking remained unclear: would the company truly attempt to reassemble the fragments of peer-to-peer transmissions, then extract video from all sorts of different codecs, then attempt to match it-in real time-to some database of copyrighted works? Would such a thing even be possible?
Closed networks, its proponents maintain, offer a trade-off. Individuals or outside developers can’t make any changes or improvements to it. But since the network and its applications are controlled at a single source, individuals are supposed to get an easier experience in which they don’t have to think about the network, just what they’re doing on it. Trust the network.
In an interview with Business Week in October 2005, Whitacre said he thought taking over BellSouth would be rejected by the FCC. He also made another memorable comment that began the process which culminated in the FCC’s approval in December.
There was another similar incident which involved a female politician whose name I cannot recall (possibly working alongside Thomas Barnett). A Web search on her name revealed some unflattering results, but at the time it was her decision to leave Intel alone, despite its many abuses, which raised many suspicions.
It is convenient and simple to one’s mind to just look at technical things (Linus Torvalds being an excellent example of this). However, the deeper one explores these issues, the more ‘political’ they turn out to be. The Microsoft/Novell deal had ‘political’ aspects as well and it remains important to keep an eye on this ball in order to understand the relationship. Just come to consider Novell’s role in helping Microsoft against antitrust regulators in the United States and Europe. Also consider Microsoft’s recent acquisition and control tactics, which manage to escape the FTC’s wrath through procedural loopholes. █