It’s no exaggeration to say Google received carte blanche from the Obama Administraion to violate federal antitrust, privacy, and intellectual property laws. It’s been reported that more than 400 meetings took place between the White House and Google employees, and that 55 former Google employees, lawyers, and lobbyists worked for the administration. Clearly, Google’s roots are deeply embedded in D.C.
Thankfully, President Trump and Attorney General William Barr largely have put a stop to Google’s crony influence, but the company is trying to use its considerable power and influence to fend off possible accountability from the nation’s judicial branch.
The Department of Justice is in the middle of an antitrust investigation against Google, and the Supreme Court is about to hear a case addressing Google’s possible intellectual property theft.
Google’s pending Supreme Court plea will try to overturn an appeals court decision, which found the company violated U.S. copyright laws to create Android. Google does not deny taking thousands of lines of code from Oracle but it has tried to invent a legal theory to make that code uncopyrightable.
As Allum Bokhari at Breitbart noted, several Google-funded think tanks—including the American Antitrust Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge—all filed amicus briefs arguing Google had the right to take the code. Fortunately, the Trump Justice Department ignored these paid interest groups and filed an amicus brief against Google, noting that all these paid “policy arguments are unpersuasive.”
The fact that the Obama Administration—Google’s best friend—even filed a brief against the company’s IP theft shows just how flagrant those copyright violations were. Nevertheless, Google is now hoping that Chief Justice John Roberts will betray the Trump White House again. Roberts indicated he would ask the court to consider procedural questions, which could potentially let Google get away with its massive intellectual property theft, even if the court finds Google is culpable.
Yet the concern over Google intellectual property theft is bipartisan.
The Supreme Court case is not the only trouble plaguing Google. The Trump Justice Department is also expected to file antitrust charges against Google this summer, which is long overdue. Evidence strongly suggests that the Obama Administration dropped antitrust action against Google in 2011-12 in exchange for technical and advertising support for Obama’s reelection in 2012 and thereafter. Google now has a monopoly in search, streaming video (YouTube), web browsers (Chrome), and a duopoly in advertising with Facebook and smartphone systems with Apple—due in large part to political favors granted to them by the Obama Administration.
While the Justice Department’s progress is very welcome news, its case against Google may not be as strong as it needs to be. According to Peter Hasson at the Daily Caller, the Justice Department is leaning against taking on Google’s search monopoly, even though it controls a whopping 92 percent of the market. As Ann Coulter quipped, “it would be like Teddy Roosevelt saying, ‘We’re doing a big antitrust investigation of Standard Oil, but we aren’t touching their oil monopoly.’”
Instead, the investigation appears to be focused on Google’s abuse in the ad-tech market. This is a severe problem, as displayed by Google’s recent threats to demonetize conservative sites like the Federalist. However, as The Information recently reported, “some critics worry that the focus on ad tech, which is largely invisible to consumers, will fail to stem Google’s outsize influence as a digital gatekeeper. Through its search platform, it controls how billions of consumers get information.” Indeed, Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt said days after the 2016 election that Google needed to focus on “how people get their information, what they believe, what they don’t,” as the “project for the next decade.”
Letting Google’s search monopoly go unchecked allows them to continue to control the web and the battle of ideas. Just as the Justice Department has gone all-in to stop Google’s IP theft, they must do the same with Google’s search monopoly and other anti-competitive practices.