Oracle gives FCC a great big sloppy kiss: You're doing a great job axing net neutrality, privacy

But why?


In a bizarre, fawning letter, Oracle has given America's broadband watchdog, the FCC, the equivalent of a telco reach-around.

The letter [PDF] from Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz's office, and signed by senior VP Kenneth Glueck, appears to have been written solely to praise FCC chairman Ajit Pai and his recent actions: a situation made all the more bizarre by the fact that Oracle has nothing to do with the decisions it praises.

"We are optimistic that the FCC under your leadership will take a different approach and are encouraged by the actions you have already taken to date," the March 13 letter says, leaning forward for a kiss. "We look forward to working with you to reset America's technology policy in a new pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-American leadership direction."

In particular, it congratulates Pai for killing off new privacy rules on ISPs that were due to take effect earlier this month, and for shutting down the effort to force cable companies to open up cable boxes to third parties. It also sides fiercely with Pai in criticizing net neutrality rules, in particular the decision to designate ISPs as so-called Title II carriers.

Quite why Oracle has decided to side so heavily with the ISP industry when it has virtually nothing to do with its business is something of a head-scratcher. And the vehemence of the argument makes it that much weirder.

On the effort to open up cable boxes, for example, it argues: "Adopting a technology mandate to force 'competitive' set-top boxes in 2017 feels a lot like mandating automakers to install 8-track cassette players in 2017."

Except it doesn't. Not by anyone. And why does Oracle care about cable boxes anyway?

Wheels on fire

The answer may come in the fact that the letter is also unnecessarily critical of Pai's predecessor, Tom Wheeler.

"The FCC under Chairman Wheeler routinely picked winners and losers in the complex and converging network ecosystem," it spits, later noting: "The Wheeler FCC's characterization of ISPs as gatekeepers was entirely outdated, especially when more than two-thirds of global computing power is mobile today."

Then later: "The Wheeler FCC took the extraordinary step of subjecting a flourishing 21st century network technology to a sprawling regulatory framework designed for the old telephone monopoly – all in service of imposing a maximalist version of 'net neutrality'."

Not that the letter doesn't make some fair points – and ones that we at The Register have consistently made when it comes to some of the decisions made by the FCC under Wheeler's reign: its use of arcane legislation to reach a desired goal; its clear bias for the viewpoints of companies like Google; its recognition that the regulatory structure as it currently stands is not designed for the modern, user-centric technological world.

But it is highly unusual for a large corporation to write such a fervent letter, praising one individual to high heaven and condemning their predecessor, especially when the topic has little or nothing to do with their business.

What next? Apple taking out an ad to complain about gun rights? Intel forcefully pushing its views on healthcare reform?

All about Trump

The only logical explanation is that the letter is another indicator of the weird new praise-lobbying that is becoming increasingly common in the early days of Trumpism.

Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz sits on President Trump's tech team and is serving as an advisor to him (something that a lot of Oracle employees are not happy about). It seems that one easy way of buying currency with the president these days is to wildly praise whatever he agrees with and fiercely condemn anything he doesn't.

Why does Catz need some Trump currency? Probably something to do with being sued by the US government over discrimination; a situation that puts some very valuable contracts at risk. Or maybe the fact that it is laying off employees (and lying about it), when the one thing guaranteed to give Trump a hard-on is a company saying it will hire more Americans.

Either way, the fact that the chair of the FCC is being pulled into this circus does not bode well for him or telecom policy. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021