It would be difficult to capture how much Google changed the world for good since the turn of the millennium, whether it’s Gmail, Google Flights, Google Maps, or just their search engine, which was worlds beyond anything we had at a time when the notion of the Internet still seemed quaint and exciting.
All of this, Google gave to us for free.
Truly, they were living their business model, "Don’t be evil," which at the time was a not-so subtle rebuke of Microsoft’s corporate raiding during the 1990s.
Fast forward to 2019 — the story is a little different.
It seems like just making money isn’t interesting to Google any more.
The corporate overlords are no longer content "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" — now they want to fundamentally transform it.
Google’s tailored searches have created the online echo chamber. Google’s jack-booted "community standards" have squashed free speech on YouTube while rewarding Russian trolls.
Google executives have been caught scheming to subvert democratic elections, with The Wall Street Journal confirming they indeed manipulate your search results based on their political biases. Google’s innocently named "Project Nightingale" has been hoarding millions of Americans’ private healthcare data. And it’s sharing the "crown jewel" of their artificial intelligence with the Chinese government.
Google has gone from pioneering brilliance that made us all ooh! and aah! to a genuine menace to society, and all our freedoms. The company has become a non-state actor with power that most of us can’t even comprehend. One of Google’s latest crimes is abusing its monopoly to squash competitors who might threaten their evil empire.
But, with good fortune, the U.S. Supreme Court will stop them.
Last month, the court agreed to hear the case Google v. Oracle, a lawsuit with massive potential consequences for the state of digital copyright protections in the coming decades.
Oracle sued Google after they copied 11,500 lines of code, line for line, from Oracle’s renowned Java program, trying to pass the code off as Google’s original.
Google argues that the programming code it replicated isn’t copyrightable and shouldn’t be subject to the legal safeguards that copyright offers, even though Oracle’s software was already copyrighted. Moreover, even though Google made zero alterations to the code, the company argues that its engineers hitting Ctrl+C then Ctrl+V constituted "fair use" under the law.
If the high court hands Google a victory here, the ruling will provide the company with even more latitude to target small upstart tech companies. Should anyone come up with innovations that Google engineers haven’t, they could simply copy the proprietary code and use their superior resources to crush the competitor.
No one can compete with Google and if they get away with this no one ever will be.
The Supreme Court is not the only one questioning Google’s market dominance.
U.S. Atty. Gen. William Barr expressed concerns about big tech’s size and pervasiveness, and 50 state attorneys general — that’s almost all of them — have placed Google under an antitrust investigation.
Across the Atlantic, the European Union fined Google €1.7 billion for abusing its market position against competing platforms. Google was exploiting its dominant position in digital advertising to force websites to use only its Ad Sense, which "prevented its rivals from having a chance to innovate and to compete on their merits."
So public opinion, and more importantly, action, is moving in the right direction.
This approach may offend many of our libertarian friends who enjoy making pointless, principled stands, but Google can’t continue unchecked. They’re no longer the heroes of the digital age — they’re corporate tyrants whose motto has twisted into, "Don’t. Be Evil."
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House, and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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