Frager Factor

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Domaining's Most Fascinating People 2011- Scott Cleland

This holiday weekend we're giving thanks to the pioneers, fighters, doers and givers that inspire us and make up this year's group of Domaining's Most Fascinating People for 2011. Enjoy and have joyous holiday.

Scott Cleland: Redefining the "Free" and "Open" Internet

Yes, Scott Cleland is a domainer (and a keynoter at this year's TRAFFIC conference), but he has precious little time to devote to this pursuit, given that he's in such demand by his techcom clients, the media, interviewers like us, Congress, and a host of others who know a top prophet of Internet gurus when they see one. He's the founder and President of Precursor® LLC, Chairman of NetCompetition®, a regular contributor to Forbes as author of the The Tech Capitalist blog, and recently the author of Search and Destroy - Why You Can't Trust Google Inc., which continues to throw him into the spotlight on radio, television, in print media, and on the web. Even before his book, he's been profiled in Fortune, Barrons, USA Today, and several industry journals.

It's not just that his finger is on the pulse of the Internet - past, present, and future. He's built a career in public affairs and public policy - a track record that includes posts in the State Dept. under George H. W. Bush, senior policy advisor to Sec. of State James Baker, Budget Examiner for the OMB, and Director of Legislative Affairs for the Treasury Dept. Currently he sits of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy. So who's listening when he speaks? Many Congressional subcommittees, a large chunk of K Street, Fortune 500 companies, and big techcom everywhere - including Google itself. The guy's got chops, and if he ever has time to throw himself back into domaining, we'll all take notice.

In the meantime, his universe is a bit wider, and we were glad to grab a few minutes with him. We asked him one overarching question: How is the entire Internet landscape different now from a year ago? His response came fluidly and incisively, and it's worth offering verbatim.

"There are three big things with the internet that have changed quite a bit in the last year. First, the issue of privacy. We've had a Google privacy settlement with FTC, Facebook’s settlement is pending any day now, and you have the European Union - for the first time since 1995 - ready to update Internet privacy rules. And why does that matter to us? The Internet is a global business. If a third of the world requires one thing, it'll be difficult not to apply it elsewhere. The privacy baseline is rapidly catching up with the Internet. A lot of Internet companies assume they can do whatever they want. And they have. It's slow, but in the last year the privacy issue has really begun to pick up speed. So privacy will be front and center in the EU next year, and increasingly important in the US as well.”

"Second, in the U.S., we have the big fight over copyright. We have the Protect IP bill in the Senate, and the House companion bill called SOPA - the Stop Online Piracy Act. It's showing that there's a really big war between the content owners who believe their content's being stolen and the tech, ad-based companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, that interpret a "free and open Internet" to mean that "free" means no cost, and "open" means no property. That bill is likely to pass despite large tech, ad-based opposition. Those two issues are related in that the tech companies don't want to ask people for permission to protect their privacy, and they don't want to ask permission from content owners to use their property. I think of it this way: the Internet "Wild West" era is increasingly coming to a close. And property and privacy rules and legislation are like the new Internet sheriff riding into town."

"Third is the Google antitrust issue. At this time last year, Google and the antitrust issue weren't very hot. Since then, the EU has launched an antitrust investigation and probably by the end of the year or early next year it'll come down very hard on Google. The FTC has also launched an investigation, which is going more slowly. And there's an investigation in Korea, and in Texas, California, and New York - they're also looking at these anti-trust issues. Since Google is the gatekeeper and monetizer of online content, Google anti-trust enforcement is a huge issue for the Internet."

It's been said of broadcast television in its heyday - the three-network era of the 50s, 60s, and 70s - that "the business of television isn't selling products to consumers, it's delivering consumers to advertisers." The same, Scott notes, is true of the monetized Internet: "Users are the product they sell. They want you to divulge as much information about yourself as possible, so they can sell you to advertisers. Google, and others, have been extremely deceptive about this."

Scott is David to Google's Goliath, and even though not everyone's on his side as he fires volleys with his sling, he's caught the eyes and ears of you and me, other companies, and governments around the world. For his determination, for his enormous experience which he so readily shares, and for batting cleanup against the abuses of Internet giants, we're pleased to recognize Scott as one of Domaining's Most Fascinating People for 2011.

Photo: DnJournal

About The Author: Owen Frager is an Internet marketing expert ready to help take your company to the next level.

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