Feeds

AOL's Case smartens up the road show

Not-so-silver-tongued devil woos Congress...sort of

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

America Online Chairman Steve Case took pains to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee every platitude ever written about the wonders of the Internet as they convened this week to consider the proposed merger of AOL with media giant Time Warner.

He waxed poetic on the education of our tender sprouts. "Today, a student in Alaska or Alabama can visit the Library of Congress online, and so can a young person in Ankara." Well yes, they could do that. They could also waste gargantuan chunks of time chatting in ICQ and downloading pornography, music and warez. Odds, anyone?

But Case pressed on. "Building a medium we can be proud of has always been core to the vision at AOL," he said. "That means empowering people by giving them a voice, and greater choice." "It means connecting people in meaningful ways to their government, and helping them to give back to their communities. It means enhancing educational opportunities for children. It means expanding its reach and its benefits to every corner of the world, leaving no community, and no country, behind."

At this point we observed Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah) visibly struggling to remain awake. All right, however beautifully written it may have been, Case's speech didn't quite hit its mark. Part of it was his monotonous delivery, but the greater part is rooted in the Committee's overall fatigue with the bright promises of mega-corporations.

"The most significant danger to the promise of the Internet," Chairman Hatch observed, "is the possibility that a handful of companies could control who can access or deliver applications, or content."

He was similarly underwhelmed with the memo of understanding between Case and Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin, announced just hours before the hearing, and pledging to open Time Warner's cable network to other ISPs, and to guarantee choice of ISP to consumers of the combined company's cable service.

"The first paragraph of this promotional document makes it clear that the document is not binding," Hatch observed dryly. Furthermore, it was developed "without input from...the parties it professes to be championing," he added. Hatch wondered aloud how an agreement which can't be enforced could be taken for more than a marketing gimmick.

Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (Democrat, Vermont) noted that after merging, the potential for cross-exploitation of the two companies' respective markets could be too much temptation to resist. It would not be much of a challenge to "push the television content through the AOL gateway, and the AOL content through the television screen," Leahy said in a tone which could have been taken as scornful.

But Case stayed cheerfully on message. He spoke of "a broad and powerful vision that will forever alter our lives." Noting that the Internet now reaches a scant forty percent of American households, he invited us all to "imagine what we will achieve when we reach every country, every community, every business, every family."

We accepted Case's invitation, closed our eyes, engaged our imaginations, and within minutes found ourselves palpably disgusted. Perhaps Hatch and Leahy did the same, with similar reactions. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.