This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can do this Register here Getting it on weekdays.
Did the US government lose opportunities to rein in Google? Five months ago, I raised that question In this newspaper. Newly revealed documents reveal that the answer is yes.
On Tuesday, POLITICO was published Content Based on unseen internal memories before the Obama-era government inquiry into whether Google misused its power in a squash contest and hurt Americans. The Federal Trade Commission concluded in early 2013 that Google’s behavior did not break the law. However, the company Agreed to change Some of its business practices.
Reading the documents with the benefit of handsite, I felt investigators saw red flags in Google’s behavior, but were divided as to whether they should do anything about it. in present, Three antitrust lawsuits Those against Google are pending, and the government now cites some signs of the same warning that investigators saw as evidence of the company’s illegal monopoly power.
Can Google’s influence on online advertising and digital information be avoided if the government overcomes areas of behavior that some people at the FTC found worrying about a decade ago?
Tell me about three points or questions I got from this troop of Google documents:
Current Affairs Roots Against Google:
Now of the three pending lawsuits against Google, I will focus on two: first, the Department of Justice They say Google used business deals with Apple and Android smartphone companies to strengthen their hold on our digital lives. And a group of US state attorneys general Claimed Google discovered online experts in areas such as home repair services and travel reviews.
The funny thing about the current government lawsuits is that there is very old news of behavior. not everything. But many more. This was clear at first, but the FTC documents made it undisputed. (The Wall Street Journal also received part of one of these documents In 2015.)
Politico The documents In 2012, fear emerged within the FTC that Google would use its money and power to ensure that its search box had a dominant position on smartphones and expanded its digital dominance. It is essentially the US government (And the European Union) Now say that Google did. Google has said Government claims have no merit.
And based on interviews and emails from executives at Google and other companies, government employees found that Google had promoted its own products – and in some cases allocated similar online information from competitors – because it allowed Google’s bottom line got help. Again, that is a behavior at the heart of a state lawsuit.
in blog post, Google said that the documents supported the company’s view that consumers have benefited the most from its behavior.
I wondered what could have happened if Uncle Sam had made different choices about a decade ago – and many times before and after.
What if in 2012 FTC economists had not reduced the possibility that Google could use money and force to lock its power on smartphones? Has a different option by the agency changed the direction of the smartphone industry and the Internet? Are you reading this newspaper on your Amazon or Mozilla phone, and will it be an improvement?
Nearly a decade ago, some members of the FTC staff were upset to learn that Google had pulled information from websites including Amazon, TripAdvisor and Yelp – even when those companies sought to stop it – from their own web search To make the results more compelling. Employees wrote that the behavior signaled everyone on the Internet that Google could do whatever they liked.
What if the government demanded Google to stop the bullying? Likewise, what if the government forced Google to open its search results to outsiders? Today, if you search for a Niagara Falls hotel or a nearby pediatrician, Google mostly shows Information is collectedInstead of listings from TripAdvisor and ZocDoc, that may be more helpful. US government employees were also concerned about that behavior.
We have internet today because of those choices. It is one in which Google has made itself the first and last stop for many Internet searches. In alternative history, perhaps we will have more and better online options.
Is it pointless to play “what if”?
Congratulations for a separate Internet does not mean that the government should bend the law to do so.
POLITICO documents show that in 2012 the FTC people believed that the law was not in favor of the government in some cases, or that what Google was doing could harm rivals, but it could result in search results And the web can also be better for us. The same can happen today.
FTC staff members are also not soothsayers who can predict how the online competition will turn out.
However, with this advantage, it is not surprising how the Internet economy could fall apart and giants dominate less today than if the government had sought to change Google’s business practices.
Before we leave …
A moderate basis on the contractor status of Uber drivers: Uber and similar “gig economy” companies have tried to treat their couriers as traditional employees. My colleague adam satriano The writing After losing a major legal suit, Uber retreated to a strict line stance in Britain and would provide minimum wages, holiday pay and some other benefits to drivers in the country.
What is virtual learning tech? My colleague is natasha singer The writing When in-person education is widely returned about technologies for distance education, they can stick around.
Wikipedia wants to receive payment: Wired reported on Wikipedia that most of us are trying to have a free option. Create a paid version for commercial users like Google.
How did I not know about Squishmello before now ?! My colleague Taylor Lorenz dug Brightly colored stuffed animal / pillow types They gather, perform and hug.