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Internet Summit Rules Discussion Is Anti-Small Business

What’s a little crony capitalism between big friendly competitors?

Before the Group of Eight (G-8) Summit in Paris, large Internet companies  (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.) are meeting with government leaders  to discuss intellectual property rights and regulation of the Internet.

Let’s dissect what’s really going on.

“And, while acknowledging the net’s power as a force for freedom elsewhere, western countries differ on how to harness or curb it on their own doorsteps.” – Key Internet summit to discuss online rules

As an Internet attorney, to me it’s clear that governments want to regulate and tax the heck out of e-commerce. Even the United Nations has jumped on that bandwagon with proposals for a global tax to fund its pet causes.

Many of the large online companies (and their founders) are at a place in their business life cycle where it makes sense to cooperate with regulatory and taxation efforts in order to protect their turf against free market competition. They will work with the politicians in the coming years to make it difficult for new Internet startups to compete or even replace them.

This is the down side to crony capitalism. Of course, in this case, it’s the large capitalists selling rope to hang the entrepreneur as a means to preserve dominance in their respective niches. They have their billions. Why should your e-commerce company rock the boat?

There are many competing interests at stake but there is a mutual goal between the big corporations and the politicians of taming the Internet in a way that helps them to your disadvantage. And there’s going to be little you or your Internet attorney can do to turn reverse the tide because regulations and taxes often increase but rarely cease.

Internet Gambling Payment Processor Cops A Plea

When the U.S. Department of Justice decides to go after someone, your Internet lawyer can explain why it’s a tough battle to fight. In this case, Bradley Franzen is pleading guilty to criminal charges because he helped hide and process payment for Internet gambling.

As noted by Bloomberg in Franzen Pleads Guilty to Internet Gambling Charges, Cooperates With U.S., “[a]fter an Internet poker operator contacted him in 2009 to help handle checks from U.S. customers, [Franzen] lied to banks and created fake companies and websites to hide the payments.”

With Franzen’s cooperation, you can expect the rest of those indicted for illegal gambling in the U.S. to either race to get plea deals of their own, or in the alternative, get nailed to the wall with Franzen’s cooperation if the U.S. government wants to send a message against the crime of online gambling.

It’s unlikely that any of owners or payment processors for Internet gambling sites Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, or Poker Stars will sleep easy tonight.

A final note…anyone who thinks that online payments aren’t being tracked by the federal government post-9/11 is deluding himself. It’s more than a “War on Terror.” Domestic and international electronic funds transfers are scrutinized for the “wars” against drugs, against tax evasion, and in this case, against illegal Internet gambling.

Should prisoners and sex offenders be allowed to troll the Internet?

The State of Louisiana’s legislature is trying to curtail repeat crime by making it illegal for inmates and some released sex offenders to hang out on social media sites, go to chat rooms, or use peer-to-peer (P2P) networking.

According to a Shreveport Times article on this Internet law issue, House Bill 55 “bans certain sex offenders, especially those whose crimes involved minors, from accessing social media like Facebook or MySpace, or going into chat rooms or peer-to-peer networks,” and Senate Bill 182 “targets inmates who are behind bars and using the Internet to create social networking sites to make connections with people, further scams…or send or receive pornography.”

Internet lawyers, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, and free speech advocates will be debating the merits and legality of these bills should they become law.

As a parent, I don’t want my kid being preyed upon by these types of predators online or offline. But that’s my responsibility as a parent to ensure it doesn’t happen. Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean it’s going to suddenly stop a predator. And there are already plenty of laws on the books to nail these guys to the wall for child molestation and other crimes. One more law isn’t going to make a difference.

And as an Internet lawyer, I have to wonder how many of these predators are still dumb enough to go online given the number of law enforcement personnel trolling the Internet looking for pedophiles to catch.

In short, the Louisiana legislative bills have a good intent but I doubt they’ll make much of a difference in either crime deterrence or punishment. Enforcing existing laws should be enough.

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