[governance] FW: TP: city government exercising policy on Google Applications / consumer rights / Consumer Protection Act / trial period

Paul Lehto lehto.paul at gmail.com
Tue Jul 12 11:06:47 EDT 2011

On 7/12/11, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net> wrote:
> Privateness or publicness is not the real issue in judging what is
> unique about the Internet. [snip]
> [P]ositing the Internet as intrinsically and uniquely 'private'
> and antithetical to any notions or institutions of public-ness is either
> naive or, if deliberate, a part of the neoliberal design of marketising
> all social institutions and relationships in a manner that benefits the
> already most powerful.

Excellent point.  It seems to me that there is a large super-majority
world-wide that supports government setting the "neutral framework"
laws for free participation and interaction on the internet, along
with a basic notion of equality consistent with widely ratified human
rights laws.

At the same time, a majority would also, as they should, oppose
heavy-handed governmental censorship or interference, like that seen
with China.

For this large majority I'm speaking of, having the government
guarantee basic frameworks and rights of free participation on the
internet -- and then stepping back except as necessary to police real
abuses of the rights of others -- is a common sense plan of action
that features all of the perceived goods of government and essentially
empty of all the perceived bads of government.   Because Daniel agrees
with me that "private" actors on the internet, especially
corporations,  directly set and declare the "law of the internet" via
contracts and terms of service which are then the law as between those
private actors and all others, there is no getting around the reality
that the Internet IS regulated.

The only question is Who will set the law applicable to the internet?
Will it be corporations via contract, or governmental entities of
various types using a democratic value system that uses neutral
framework laws along with protection of individual and some social

Personally, no matter how low my opinion or anyone else's opinion may
be about their influence or say with government, that influence is
even lower when it comes to one's ability to influence or have a say
with Verizon or other internet corporations when it comes to what the
law of their terms of service are, most especially when these
"private" corporations have monopolies or quasi-monopolies on parts of
the internet backbone.

This same thing applies even to everyday services commonly provided
over the internet such as Ticketmaster's near-monopoly on concert
ticket sales in North America, especially the USA.  Such corporations
create law that is often very one-sided and oppressive and nobody
outside those corporations really has any say whatsoever.

Moreover, even  when there isn't is some real corporate competition to
give a fig leaf of illusion that there is "choice" in the marketplace
there is no choice as to the private corporate laws being asserted via
contracts and terms of service.  This is because in the vast majority
of examples the other corporate choice has the very same unfair
contract terms that are the law at the original "choice".   Thus,
while "choice" may exist in the market for unhappy customers, there is
rarely competition of any kind on the kind of oppressive terms of
service that basically all lawyers will strongly advise their clients
to push onto the customers.

Give a lawyer a blank piece of paper (which is corporate terms of
service), and basically 100% of all lawyers will instinctively draft
the most one-sided terms that they know how to do.  Differences
between corporations in their terms of service are more often than not
a function of the relative ignorance or the relative style of
different lawyers or law firms, not any real competition to gain
market share by having fairer terms of service.  The occasional
exceptions that maybe can be cited here simply prove the basic rule:
One has a fighting chance of rights with government, and really no
chance at all with corporations.

Put another way, rights and duties will *always* be allocated.  In a
"private sector" model the corporate "service" providers simply
allocate all the rights to themselves.  THe internet has somewhat more
"work-around" capability, but only a tech utopian believes these
work-arounds are a magical solution to the otherwise eternal question
of who will make the laws and who will allocate the rights and duties?
 A democratically elected governmental entity, or an aristocracy of
monied corporations?

Paul Lehto, J.D.

Paul R Lehto, J.D.
P.O. Box 1
Ishpeming, MI  49849
lehto.paul at gmail.com
906-204-4026 (cell)
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