Google deserves Treat it like your local telephone company?The idea that leading, front-end Internet platforms should be regulated as public operators or public utilities has become kick about for a whileBut in April, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made an opinion suggesting that the public transportation law could allow Congress to regulate social media providers, which changed the situation again.Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit in June, requesting a state court to rule that “under Ohio common law, Internet searches provided by Google are correctly classified as public operators and/or public utilities .” Last weekend, Jost published an article Column in New York Times Touted this strategy is to prevent Google from favoring its own business, rather than relying on it to reach customers’ competitors. “As legal contact progresses, it is much lighter than the antitrust law requires,” he wrote.

Unfortunately, it is also a bit of an understatement logically.

“This guy made a mess,” said Barbara Cherry, a professor at Indiana University’s School of Media, who studies public transportation and utility law. “For lawyers, this is particularly sloppy.”

The first red flag in the Ohio lawsuit is that it has not even tried to define what a public operator or utility is. The second red flag is Yost’s suggestion that these two concepts can be interchanged.Everything he seeks, he writes in era Op-ed is “a simple statement that according to the law, Google is a utility company, or more broadly, a public operator.” In fact, public transportation is not a more general public utility.

“People have a lot of misunderstandings about what public transportation is and what public utilities are,” said Cherry, who worked in telecommunication law before entering the academic world. “They are completely independent legal systems, and why an entity obtains legal status under any of them is for different reasons. As it happens, some entities can be either public carriers or public utilities, but the reason is They are both satisfied.”

Cherry explained that the concept of public utility refers to an enterprise that signs an agreement with a certain level of government to provide services to the general public. In exchange, it usually gains some benefits or decentralization from the state. Think of a power company that has the right to call expropriation rights but is subject to price control.

“Utilities come from the contractual relationship between the government and entities that should be public utilities,” Cherry said. But it is clear that Google has not signed a contract with the government to provide a search engine.

Okay, but what about calling Google a public operator? Here, Cherry also said that Yost misunderstood the law. She explained that public transportation is a legal concept and its history can be traced back to the feudal economy of England in the Middle Ages. A public carrier is a person who is willing to carry things for any public. Anyone who chooses to conduct business in this way must assume certain legal obligations, including non-discrimination.

Originally, “horse carriage” meant literally-such as ferry operators. Today, it can contain more metaphors to carry, just like a telephone company. The key overlap is neutrality. “By definition, an ordinary carrier is just a pipeline,” Cherry explained. “They have no control over the content.” This is the principle behind Net neutrality A rule issued by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015 (and repealed during the Trump administration) that imposes public operator status on Internet service providers such as Comcast and AT&T. Since ISPs are just data pipelines, it is necessary to prevent them from processing data in different ways based on the source or content of the data.


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