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Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Protection and Resistance

Adam Shostack notes that business tactics can sometimes be compared to the mafia.
  • Identity Theft Protection (Eric Rescorla). "That's a great credit rating you've got there ... shame if anything happened to it" (Adam).
And legitimate business services can be used by the mafia.
  • Mexican kidnappers are in league with the insurance companies (Tyler Cowen). Columbian kidnappers pull your credit file from the credit agency to calculate optimum ransom (Alex Tabarrok).
Does this mean that some structural similarity with the mafia should be sufficient to reject some business innovation?
  • Net Neutrality. "FedEx would never suggest intentionally losing your packages. They also would never suggest tearing them open to see if there’s anything good inside. But Verizon and Comcast and a number of other broadband providers are gleefully declaring their intent to drop your traffic, starting with whatever you consider most valuable. This, they call "innovation". (Dan Kaminsky).
Many stakeholders clearly regard arguments against network neutrality, or proposals that undermine network neutrality, as a form of bad faith. For example, telecoms analyst Martin Geddes argues eloquently against network neutrality, tells his readers You Won't Like This, Not One Bit, and is rewarded with the following comment: "There is a special place in jail for people like you".

Of course it's natural to be suspicious of change. Even if the old Internet model was a myth, people may regard any kind of innovation as a breach of trust.

It't not easy to decide which innovations to trust. While superficial similarities to mafia practice make good rhetoric, they may not be the best basis for trust decisions.

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