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AOL to open up instant messaging to secure Time Warner deal?

Looks like the FCC is getting medieval on its ass

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Well, we've been pondering what the FCC would do with the AOL/Time Warner deal and it looks as though it's come down hard. Of course the big stumbling block has been AOL's instant messaging technology which has a virtual stranglehold on the market. According to whispers and nudge-nudge-wink-winks, the Federal Communications Commission has demanded the opening up of IM as a prerequisite to letting the merger go ahead.

This will not make AOL happy since it has been fighting bitterly for control of the market for a while now, batting away Microsoft among others. The arguments AOL has thrown forward about it protecting users' security/privacy have never held any water with the IT community but that doesn't mean they wouldn't with the government.

But if it has lost the argument, it has lost the argument. There's no way AOL will pull the whole deal for the sake of IM, but it's a nasty poke in the eye. Good, we say. AOL has gone to extraordinary lengths (as has its detractors to be fair) to stop anyone else being able to slot in with its technology and we just don't like this kind of approach (why can we all just be nice to one another :-) ).

The Federal Trade Commission decided a while ago it could nothing about IM because the software was free, but it's good to see that the FCC didn't give up the fight. AOL hasn't really got a leg to stand on. Grand. ®

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