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Can Google Get Any More Anti-Consumer and Competitor?

legls walking past google logo
(Sipa via AP Images)

By Monday, 27 July 2020 10:53 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Tech giant Alphabet and their bread-winner Google have been dealing with a culture change. A company founded on the idea that a massive enterprise could be a force for the public good, it has baked "anti-corporate" ideas into the very foundation of its operating principals. Unfortunately, years of mounting evidence seem to be revealing what many have suspected for years – that Google can be a predatory force in the market.

There were always signs, even from the earliest days, that this was more PR than it was practice. But with increasing discrimination lawsuits, employee disputes, and even algorithms which produced racist results (before they fixed them), Google's relationship with the public is likely to deteriorate further.

This month, the company faces a new lawsuit for tracking users who opted out of sharing information with the tech giant. The lawsuit alleges Google followed users through hundreds of thousands of apps and websites. "Through Firebase SDK, Google can '[l]og the user's interactions with the app, including viewing content, creating new content, or sharing content.'," the lawsuit alleges. "Google aggressively tracks what consumers browse, see, create, and share online when using the apps installed on their mobile devices."

This is the second recent lawsuit over Google's pernicious tracking methods. A $5 billion class-action lawsuit against Google was filed in June over the company tracking millions of users, even those who used incognito mode. The lawsuit claims Google intercepts the communication between users and websites by collecting browsing history and argues Google's practices deceived consumers into believing that they maintain control of the information shared with the company. "Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy," the class-action lawsuit claims.

Spying on users is just the tip of Google's questionable business practices. Google steals user data and competitors coding and perpetuates its market monopolies through what can possibly be considered flagrant antitrust violations. Predatory business practices seem not to be just an aberration to the tech giant's business – it looks increasingly essential to it.

Google makes the majority of its billions through Google ads. These ads are so profitable due to the tech giant's extensive user database, which all big corporations want access to. The harvesting of user data – with or without user consent – keeps the money flowing to Google's coffers.

The company is as eager to procure their competitors' data as that of its users. The Supreme Court is set to hear Oracle's copyright infringement lawsuit against Google in October. Oracle claims Google stole code from its Java API software to develop the Android mobile phone. A federal district court has previously ruled in favor of Oracle and ruled Google committed an unlicensed commercial use of copyrighted content. The court also ruled the theft adversely impacted Oracle's intellectual property.

Google tries to defend its code copying under fair use law and claims the Java API software should effectively be open source material to spur competition. The federal court found the copied software was not open source and Google knew this prior to copying it.

The case is considered to be the copyright lawsuit of the century and the Supreme Court's decision will have a wide-ranging impact on the tech industry. If the high court cares at all for the constitutional right to copyright protections, it will strike down Google's arrogant theft of a competitor's property.

Google has faced serious consequences for its nefarious practices in Europe. The European Commission hit the tech giant with a $5 billion fine in 2018 for forcing manufacturers and users to install Google apps on Android phones. The EC found this practice violated the European Union's antitrust rules and unfairly stifled competition. "Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine," Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. "These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits."

Google CEO Sundar Pichai complained about the fine and said it "ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones." The EC found that complaint unpersuasive as the iPhone is significantly more expensive than the Android and most iPhones use Google Chrome anyway.

The $5 billion fine was on top of the $2.7 billion penalty the EC imposed on Google in 2017. The 2017 fine was for Google aggressively pushing its shopping service through its search engine, which the EC determined constitutes an antitrust violation.

The US Department of Justice is expected to file its own antitrust lawsuit against Google later this year. The DOJ's lawsuit will likely target Google's domination of the internet advertising market and its questionable methods for securing its monopoly over the internet search market. Google controls nearly 92% of the entire internet search market. That's roughly the same as Standard Oil's 91% control of domestic oil production in 1904. Standard Oil is the textbook monopoly, but Google looks to be on a path to replace it in future history books.

It is about time that Google is held to account. No one company should milk your ill-gotten data to boost its own profits. No other company can get away with copying someone else's property for its own commercial gain. And it is certainly not fair to the free market for a monopoly to ensure competitors never threaten its immense market share.

People often joke about Google's "anti-corporate" ethics code. The idea that one of the most profitable companies in history is above a take-all attitude of the market is laughable itself. But after 20 years and billions of dollars in lawsuits, it should be clear by now that Google has behaved as a predator in the marketplace.

Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer and Editorial Director for Reactionary Times. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax TV and columnist for Newsmax.com since 2016. His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cybersecurity and sports, has also been published by websites including The Hill, The Washington Times, LifeZette, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun and PJ Media and many others. Read Julio Rivera's Reports — More Here.

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Unfortunately, years of mounting evidence seem to be revealing what many have suspected for years – that Google can be a predatory force in the market.
Monday, 27 July 2020 10:53 AM
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