EU Does What DOJ Will Not
If anyone had any question about whether corporations owned our Department of Justice, today’s events should settle them.
Microsoft over the past several years has committed several violations of US and foreign antitrust laws. How do I know this? They have been found guilty repeatedly of illegal behavior. This is not just some kind of sour grapes reaction by competitors whose products were rejected in the market. This is detailed and documented by government prosecutors in this country and other countries.
Watching the corrupt tactics in trying to push OOXML through the ISO process, I can imagine that this anticompetitive behavior continues. As the recent NFL signals-taping episode illustrates, even those who may have gotten away with anticompetitive behavior in the past are facing new scrutiny today.
As Andy Updegrove records, the European Court of First Instance ruled against Microsoft in almost every part of the European antitrust case against Microsoft.
The DOJ, charged with enforcing the US antitrust laws that Microsoft was convicted of breaking, instead sides with Microsoft. If you favor free enterprise and competition, you must also favor strict and speedy intervention to stop those who abuse the system to suppress competition. Instead, DOJ is selling American consumers to large corporations for a song.
EU Business quotes Thomas Barnett, head of the Justice Deparment’s Antitrust Division:
“The decision is both lengthy and complex … It will therefore be some time before the full impact of today’s decision on antitrust policy in Europe will be apparent,” Barnett said in a statement.
“We are, however, concerned that the standard applied to unilateral conduct by the CFI, rather than helping consumers, may have the unfortunate consequence of harming consumers by chilling innovation and discouraging competition.”
Is that right? Did DOJ “protect competition” in the browser market when it reversed course after a new administration took over? Did DOJ “protect competition” in office suites? What about media players? Did DOJ “protect competition” there? I know, workgroup servers—that’s got to be the place where DOJ has “protected competition” against anticompetitive tactics by Microsoft. What? They haven’t done that either? What is it about that company (Microsoft) that gets our government to start playing footsie in the mens room? Just get a motel room, burn some hormones, and then do your job for once.
Isn’t it funny that every time there is an issue where a dominant corporation is facing some kind of constraints to “protect competition” that DOJ always comes down on the side of the corporation? Do you see DOJ standing up for consumers? I read the business section almost every day and I don’t see DOJ protecting consumers, which is the whole reason they should be “protecting competition.” Instead, it looks to me like DOJ is protecting the largest competitors in key markets (operating system software, office suite software, workgroup servers, telephones, Internet access, broadcasting, music, movies) and preventing either consumers or smaller competitors from slowing the growth of those largest competitors.
Let me clue you in, Mr. Barnett. there are plenty of “innovations” out there, but they generally come from smaller competitors, and are quickly buried by anticompetitive practices of the incumbents. A good example is Verizon’s crusade against Vonage and also Microsoft’s anti-Linux / anti-FLOSS / anti-ODF moves (including threats reminiscent of the scumbags at SCO). [Disclosure: I am (by accident of residence) a Verizon customer, but not a Vonage customer.] If your department was doing its job, we consumers would have more choices and options for broadband Internet access, but since DOJ opposes net neutrality, I guess we’ll never catch up with foreign nations.
And yes, James Robertson, this is ten years after the fact—this needed to happen no later than 2002, and best if it happened in the 1990s when the events began. It does not change the fact that the company’s anti-competitive behavior has changed the software landscape, crippling otherwise viable competitors and raising prices for consumers. It has given the company a kind of arrogance that I have never seen before in my lifetime. (Why else would they secretly push out their Genuine Disadvantage snoopware to all Windows computers, including government computers that might contain some secret information? Why else would they put anti-consumer TUR into their media player and operating system?)
I encourage you to read Andy’s take on the story, as well as James’s take and Sam’s take. I encourage you to read some economics books, so you will understand the issues at play here. Read about antitrust laws as well.
Blogged with Flock