It is, if you deny the idea — which is central to their initial statements on this controversy — that Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth only want rights to "their" property.
The new argument is that their "last mile" — the network between your local switch and your home or office — was stolen.
- Those links were built, not by the present Bells, but by the Bell System.
- The Bell System built those links under a regulated monopoly.
- The government gave the Bell System a monopoly and, in exchange, it controlled the rates the Bell System charged.
- Without that agreement, the monopoly would not have existed.
- So the "property rights" claimed by the current Bells are suspect. They are not absolute.
Further promises were made, by these same companies, in the 1996 Telecomm Act. The last mile would be treated as shared property. It could be re-sold by others. Since this promise has now been broken, the "property right" the Bells claim can’t be transferred. If it is, it is through fraud.
Now, as I noted in quid pro quo, I think lawyers for both the government and the Bells understood this. So for letting the theft go forward, for endorsing this stolen monopoly, the government asked only that your calling records be handed over in the name of "fighting terrorism." Either that was a legal call, and Qwest was bound to comply (they didn’t), or the call was illegal (and the President must be removed) or the handover was voluntary — quid pro quo.
Thus, the argument of theft — a secret agreement between the government and the Bells — becomes more pointed.
So, what happened?
- Did Qwest violate the law?
- Did the President violate the Constitution?
- Was every American defrauded of their right to a free and open Internet?
It’s one of these.
And there’s a lesson here for those debating net neutrality. Think of it as sage advice from one who has watched the Bells, within their own elite community, bully their way to absolute power for 20 years.
Don’t fight the battle on their terms. Escalate.
Go for the throat.