Interlocking Directorates

The New York Times reports that regulators have an interest in the structure of the Apple and Google boards of directors:

The Federal Trade Commission has begun an inquiry into whether the close ties between the boards of two of technology’s most prominent companies, Apple and Google, amount to a violation of antitrust laws, according to several people briefed on the inquiry.

I doubt this will go very far, as the interlocking directors (Eric Schmidt and former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson,) will simply resign before any enforcement action is imminent, but it does raise some interesting questions about the market for mobile phone operating systems, currently split between Apple, Google, Microsoft, Palm, and a few others. These systems are rife with limitations, each of which could be considered a network neutrality violation when viewed in just the right way.

I imagine Apple itself might wish to give Dr. Schmidt his walking papers before he becomes an anti-trust problem, which he actually isn’t at this point. The FTC’s interest in this obscure situation is probably a signal that the Administration wants to be viewed as an anti-trust hawk without doing anything substantial.

But this is what the law calls an “occasion of sin.” Dear me.

One thought on “Interlocking Directorates”

  1. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has other ties that should be noted publicly. For example, he is Chairman of the New America Foundation, a “public interest” lobbying group in DC which is lobbying heavily on spectrum policy and to regulate the Internet. In fact, according to the group’s own Web page, he is one of the largest donors to that group. (The money, no doubt, comes from Google, but is listed as a personal contribution from him — a technique commonly used by lobbying groups to obscure corporate influence). No wonder the group’s agenda is in lockstep with the corporate agenda of Google! And, yet, it is not registered as lobbying for Google. Hmmmm.

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