June 20, 2006 · Lessig
So Gary Reback, who was one of the important initial actors pushing the government to focus on the Microsoft case, has been focusing on telecom mergers. He’s been pushing what’s called as a “Tunney Act” proceeding (on behalf of a group called “Alliance for Competition in Telecommunications”) to review phone mergers. (The Tunney Act used to be meaningless, but in 2004 was amended to give it teeth. Reback’s case is the first under the new act).
Apparent there are now allegations that SBC and Verizon forced the deals through DoJ when the designee for head of antitrust was on Senatorial hold for too activist an enforcement bent. DoJ cleared the deals and the hold was lifted. DoJ then ignored the amended Tunney Act and let the companies close the deals even before the judge did the Tunney Act review.
This is sleazy stuff, and it forms the real basis for being concerned about the games the network owners would play if free to play games. The really striking part of this (to me, a constitutionalist) is how the legislative branch keeps passing laws that the executive branch just ignores. And why ignore the laws? Corporate influence. That’s what this case reeks of.
The key briefs in the filing are here:
Memo in support of ACTel’s notion to be Amicus (see especially 7-15)
Supplemental brief (see especially 7, 11)
I can’t say anything about the ultimate merits here, though I do know Reback and respect him, and if had to bet, would bet with him. BUt the allegations here are exactly the stuff that motivates the Net Neutrality movement.