What the US FCC Ruling on Net Neutrality Actually Means

The US FCC Ruling favouring Net Neutrality is a definitive step toward the shift of  Internet-regulation-power from the Parliament to the Government.

It is of little importance whether the FCC endorsed or rejected the (notably wrong and unjust 1) idea of Net Neutrality. What actually counts is that somebody else than a Parliament self-advocated a ruling power affecting fundamental rights that should have remained under the legislative assembly shield.

The US case is not the first and is not alone. Italian Autorità garante per le comunicazioni (a sort of FCC-like independent body) has since longtime passed regulations and opinions about issues that should be a prerogative of the Parliament.The most notably case is the anti online piracy regulation that superimpose a due-process infringing, parallel investigation and trial system to the actual, court-led criminal trials.

  1. The idea of an equal, non discriminated access to the Internet is not bad as such. But if a State wants to provide this opportunity, it shouldn’t be done at the ISPs and Telcos expenses. In other words: traffic shaping and – in general – the techniques that make possible to prioritize the packet’s transit – allow small companies to compete with bigger ones without the need of huge infrastructural investments. Why smaller companies should be banned by the competition “just” because somebody “wants” a free access? This “need” ought to be satisfied by the State itself with a Net-Neutral, publicly-owned and managed network leaving the private sector free to compete. I understand, of course, that this “socialist” approach is out-of-history and is not backed by an economic rationale. And this is exactly the reason why Net-Neutrality is wrong or – at least – non sustainable if its burden is on the private-sector only.

Google and Germany’s Ministry of Justice: A Wrong Idea of Dominant Position

The Germany’s Ministry of Justice asked Google to disclose its search algorithm because of the Mountain View company dominant position on the relevant market.

The request is not legitimate at least for two main reasons.

First: Google’s current “market position” is not based on a “users’ lock-in” as in the file-format case (for longtime, not being able to open a .doc file has been an effective method to have the users stuck to Microsoft Word). Everybody is free to use whatever search engine of choice. Yes, because Google is not the only kid in town: Yahoo!, Bing, DuckduckGo are in the same business, but steps behind Google. Sure, Google is THE search engine, as Altavista was a few years ago. But who but (some) historians still remember about the Google’s predecessor? And here comes the point: Google’s success is made by the people who use it: give them a better search engine (and additional features) and Google will fall on a fingers’ snap. This is the last iteration of a wrong concept of “dominant position” and “monopoly” when matched with a successful digital business model based on information as quid-pro-quo for providing (partially) free services.

Second: even if the “dominant position doctrine” were relevant to this case, the German solution would be possibly worst than the disease to be cured, because it would set the precedent that a company, for the sake of the “free market”, should be forced to disclose its industrial and trade secrets. Try to tell this to the pharmas or the automotive manufacturers and wait for the answers!

So the bottom line is: If you want to beat Google, instead of tying its hands, do create a better one.

 

 

Iphone for Business? At Your Own Risk

Buying a Iphone as a business tool from a mobile operator is – at least in Italy – a problematic issue.

As I have personally experienced, if the devices breaks after the first, Apple granted, warranty period, you can’t do anything else but drop it in a local store, having shipped to a repair facility, and hope for the best, without being given a spare device.

The conclusion is: before subscribing a plan that includes an Iphone, do check if the mobile carrier is offering some insurance or other form of assistance (of course, at extra-cost) that doesn’t let you naked in the middle of Trafalgar Square on New Years Eve.

Here are the facts:
– On Nov. 2012 I purchased from Vodafone Italia an Iphone 5 with a 24month voice and data plan,
– The warranty is on behalf of Apple for the first 12 months, and on behalf of Vodafone for the next 12
– The battery of the phone died and I asked an official Apple centre if they could change (upon payment) the battery,
– The Apple Centre told me that since the phone is now under Vodafone warranty they can’t even touch it,
– I called Vodafone and they told me to give them the phone, with no actual idea of the time needed for the repair (to be on the safe side, it shouldn’t be less than a month) without giving me a back up phone.

That said, my option are:
– stay possibly one month waiting for the Iphone to come back. But this is impossible: it’s a work tool, so I should buy another Iphone in the meantime. Why should I care – then – to repair the first one?
– buy a new smartphone. Again, why should I repair the old one?
– change the battery on my own, losing what lasts of the warranty and risking to break it. Spend money, finally buy a new phone.

Thus, whatever the option, to solve my problem I’m supposed to buy a new Iphone just because there is no way to just change a died battery of an otherwise perfectly working device. Maybe this business strategy might work for a consumer that can just wait for the smartphone to come back from the repair garage, but it is non acceptable for a business user.

Web tax in Italy. Why just “web” companies?

An article published by The Financial Times, supports the idea that the companies making monies from the digital buy/selling of goods and services should pay taxes without “eluding” the fiscal regulation. The Italian newspaper Huffington Post – and its sibling, Repubblica.it – jumped on this article using as leverage to sustain the feasibility of  the infamous Italian “Web Tax” that makes mandatory to buy online advertising from companies with an Italian VAT number as a way to force (primary) Google to pay taxes in Italy.

It is astonishing – astonishing – how this people just forget that “tax heavens” and “fiscal elusion” are standard business of the whole international – and Italian – economy. Just look at which (Italian, or Italian-based) companies have a branch, a shell, or whatever “thing” the fiscal engineers have devised that are located abroad, and above all, since when. Just to name a recent court case, the “Mediaset Trial” that pushed Mr. Berlusconi out of the Italian Parliament was based on the accusation that the Italian-based media company Mediaset traded the acquisition of broadcasting rights from the USA by way of a triangulation with an off-shore company. The investigation started in 2005, way before the rise in Europe of the big digital companies.

So, my point is simple: this is the free economy and you have to live with it. You can’t both endorse “capitalism” as a way of life and complain if some companies are smarter than others, by exploiting the different way and level of taxation. To put it short, the free economy is based on difference and polarization, i.e. competition, and there is nothing that the odd-day-capitalists-even-day-communists can do, unless taking an AK-47 and start a socialist revolution against themselves.

EU:a State-approved professional to connect a router to a socket? Italy already got it

The “discovery” that Italy is going to enforce the EU directive 2008/63/CE by imposing that only a State-approved professional can connect a router to a socket has generated some sort of  hype among those who’re not familiar with the Italian legal system. Since 1992, in fact,  the decree of the Ministry of communication n.314 already establish such burden (and sanction those who don’t comply.)

The true news is that – should the government actually revise the old regulation – things can only get worse…