Amazon, Apple, Google Squabbles Show Real Threat to Network Neutrality - Page 2

Wouldn’t that be like the Safeway grocery chain refusing to carry Goya beans because it carries its own store brand of the same beans? It would, but it’s up to Safeway, or any other retailer, whether they carry a particular brand.

What this means is that despite Amazon’s position as the dominant online retailer, it’s still a private company and it can sell what it wants. After all, there is competition. You can go to the Lowes home improvement website and order a Google Home—at a discount.

So here we are with the mere concept of site blocking creating huge crowds of protesters in Washington and elsewhere in the country without any evidence that the things they’re afraid of will ever happen. After all, the big ISPs have said they won’t do it.

But meanwhile, site blocking is going on outside of the big ISPs and yet there’s no outrage. The fact that Google has been blocking YouTube from Amazon devices for several weeks seems to generate no interest at all from the same advocacy groups that are decrying the loss of net neutrality.

The good news is that Apple, Amazon and Google have apparently figured out that this squabble is really stupid. It’s hurting their customers; it’s not helping them and it’s demonstrating that even really smart internet innovators can act like idiots.

But acting like an idiot is something that a business is allowed to do. It may make them more vulnerable to their competition; it may send their customers elsewhere; and it may hurt their own revenues, but they’re allowed to do it.

Which brings us back to the net neutrality situation. The ISPs are also private businesses. Should they be regulated in a way that other businesses also on the internet are not?

Like so many things, the answer is a firm maybe. With Amazon and the others in their collective snits, there was a choice. If you wanted to buy a Google Home, you could get it somewhere besides Amazon. If you wanted to watch Amazon Prime, you didn’t need to use an app on Apple TV. The same is true with YouTube.

But this isn't true with internet service access. More than half of American homes and businesses have only one choice of internet provider and that means that they can’t just go elsewhere.

If regulation isn’t the answer, the other choice is competition. If the FCC is going to decline to regulate then it should be up to the FCC in concert with Congress to pave the way for real competition. That process and some common-sense legislation are the real ways to support the growth of a free internet.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...