Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Republicans Businesses Crime Democrats Government The Almighty Buck United States Politics

Why Google Should Be Afraid of a Missouri Republican's Google Probe (arstechnica.com) 231

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Republican attorney general of Missouri has launched an investigation into Google's business practices. Josh Hawley wants to know how Google handles user data. And he plans to look into whether Google is using its dominance in the search business to harm companies in other markets where Google competes. It's another sign of growing pressure Google is facing from the political right. Grassroots conservatives increasingly see Google as falling on the wrong side of the culture wars. So far that hasn't had a big impact in Washington policymaking. But with Hawley planning to run for the U.S. Senate next year, we could see more Republican hostility toward Google -- and perhaps other big technology companies -- in the coming years. The Hawley investigation will dig into whether Google violated Missouri's consumer-protection and antitrust laws. Specifically, Hawley will investigate: "Google's collection, use, and disclosure of information about Google users and their online activities," "Google's alleged misappropriation of online content from the websites of its competitors," and "Google's alleged manipulation of search results to preference websites owned by Google and to demote websites that compete with Google." States like Missouri have their own antitrust laws and the power to investigate company business conduct independently of the feds. So Hawley seems to be taking yet another look at those same issues to see if Google's conduct runs afoul of Missouri law.

We don't know if Hawley will get the Republican nomination or win his challenge to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) next year, but people like him will surely be elected to the Senate in the coming decade. Hawley's decision to go after Google suggests that he sees some upside in being seen as an antagonist to a company that conservatives increasingly view with suspicion. More than that, it suggests that Hawley believes it's worth the risk of alienating the GOP's pro-business wing, which takes a dim view of strict antitrust enforcement even if it targets a company with close ties to Democrats.

Why Google Should Be Afraid of a Missouri Republican's Google Probe

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2017 @10:38PM (#55552057)

    When your company founders are openly supporting the political opposition party, your company partnered with the old government, and your company has demonstrated your willingness to censure political thought of the user base when they go against your chosen politics, then you shouldn't be surprised that your company becomes targeted by the opposition party when your party is out of power. You made your bed, now sleep in it.

    • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2017 @11:08PM (#55552179)

      >"Why companies should stay out of politics"

      +1 Google has been ACTIVELY "left", so why would this surprise anyone? And "left" government officials have done exactly the same type of harassment as this in the past. It is best to be neutral on political things not directly about business.

      Actors, too, should keep the hell out of politics. A lot of them look pretty damn stupid going on ads telling us how to vote, or making stupid political commentaries, as if their opinions are somehow more valid, important, or enlightened than the rest of us.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Google has been ACTIVELY "left", so why would this surprise anyone? And "left" government officials have done exactly the same type of harassment as this in the past.

        So many commenters here have been quick to forget discriminatory IRS practices under Obama.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You mean the thing that was investigated by a republican congress and didn't happen?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You mean the thing that was investigated by a republican congress and didn't happen?

            OJ isn't a murderer. Clinton didn't perjure himself. Bill Cosby, Weinstein, and all the others never molested anyone. Etc.

            Interesting that pointing out left wing bias is modded offtopic while the opposite is not. Almost as if one side is more insincere than the other these days, not unlike equating a lack of criminal conviction with the absence of action...unless it benefits your political party of course.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Yes, the one that didn't happen so bad that Tea Party groups ended up with a $3.5M settlement.

            Keep on being a dumb fuck though, it's clearly working for you.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          You mean the ALLEGED discriminatory practices which, upon investigation, were discovered to be unfounded? Those practices?

          Which of these facts are you claiming is not a fact?: "the FBI told Fox News that its investigation had found no evidence so far warranting the filing of federal criminal charges in connection with the controversy, as it had not found any evidence of "enemy hunting", and that the investigation continued. On October 23, 2015, the Justice Department declared that no criminal charges wo

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Bullshit.

            When all that happened, my wife was the head of a group in our state. She got started with the Ron Paul campaign, before the "Tea Party" was really a thing, so she got her org's 501(c)(3) status before the IRS started targeting conservative groups.

            So since that was already in place, they went after us personally instead. There were audits, bills, threats, all based on nothing. We kept filing paperwork and responses to their queries, which somehow the IRS never received. I'd mail AND fax the stuff

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Agreed. If actors had stayed out of politics, we wouldn't have Reaganomics or the current shit show.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Everybody should stay out of politics. Only professionals should express their opinions.

        • And what makes someone a professional in economics?

          Most CEO decisions could easily be improved if handed to a Magic-8-Ball.

        • professional politicians? I doubt we'd really want a bunch of unelected self-appointed career politicians running our lives because they say they know best and have a degree in politics and gender studies to prove it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

      Yup. And actually the recent kerfuffle with Keurig shows the same thing.

      Media Matters called up Keurig and convinced them to pull advertising from Hannity because he was, according to Media Matters 'pro child molestor'. None of which was true of course.

      http://www.dailywire.com/news/... [dailywire.com]

      So Keurig pulled their ads. Of course at that point the right started a 'boycott Keurig' campaign, with videos of people smashing their Keurig machines. Though as Ben Shapiro pointed out - smashing a machine you already own do

      • > Now in the long run this means that companies will either be Democrat companies or Republican ones. Up to now that hasn't happened.

        Oh really? What planet have you been living on for the past 40 years?

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickallen/2012/10/09/ceo-says-hell-fire-employees-if-obamas-reelected/#2301dd3259c0

        http://www.businesspundit.com/20-companies-that-you-probably-didnt-know-were-republican/

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          You have to be careful when you read these things. Companies like mine donate to any candidate (often on both sides) based upon their voting record in regards to how it helps the company. A single donation could be perceived as supporting one side, or spun that way.

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        California Pizza Kitchen brings in the most liberals, with a score of 146 on the lefty index. O'Charley's-a chain located throughout the South and Midwest-and Cracker Barrel have the most conservative clientele, scoring 121 and 118, respectively, on the righty index.

        I think anything with "California" would be far left by default...and then there's "Cracker"-anything on the right.

    • How much does Missouri cost on Amazon . . . ? Probably a lot less than a McMansion in the Silicon Valley. Google should just buy them. Problem solved.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

        Democrats haven't been able to buy people since Republicans passed the 13th Amendment

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org]

        Though arguably the H1B visa allow companies to have indentured servants. I'm surprised the Democrats haven't suggested illegals getting three fifths of vote.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      Or perhaps politicians should stay out of business...
    • here's a crazy idea. How about not using political power to seek revenge on political opponents?
      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        In general, that's a good idea. But, you often end up making compromises that appear, and negotiations and deals end up leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth. That gets people looking for revenge, and then you have what we have now...tribalism, and a feeding frenzy by the media for more because it brings in more revenue. If we can't learn to view those on the other side as something other than "libtards" or "teabaggers", then I have little hope that we'll recover from this without blood spilling eventu

  • I'm gonna guess the Republicans are prepping to find replacements for all those wealthy donors who are threatening to abandon them if they don't get their tax breaks. Just threaten some corporations until they drop some free speech dollars into the right Super-PACs.

  • I'm guessing that Google would do well to quickly take this out of state jurisdiction (if something threatens to be filed), to forestall mushrooming multiple state investigations if one succeeds, and claim that if anything should be tried at a federal level it's internet competition. And then so swamp the opposition with studies and facts about how they simply reflect the bidding of their advertisers and express no opinion or facilitate no anticompetitive behavior themselves.

    But just guessing, I'm no la
  • Does Google have a nexus in Missouri? If not, what legal issue can proceed? If Google were incorporated in Antarctica, could anyone sue them? Just asking for the sake of legal jurisdiction.

    Looking back, does anyone (!) want to go back to Altavista searches? Or Inktomi? Or that other search engine that got big bucks from mesothemioma and bulk email ads per click? I must have cost them a lot from my clicks :)

  • More money, more time, more experience and more patience. Google only needs to wait for another AG to come along who drops the case for the right campaign contribution.
  • Regulations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2017 @11:07PM (#55552161) Journal

    So, basically, reducing regulations only matter when it affects large Republican donors?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So, basically, reducing regulations only matter when it affects large Republican donors?

      Yes. More generally, one's legislative agenda serves only those who have contributed to one's election and future re-elections [princeton.edu].

      This also works in the reverse order, those who do not donate receive lots of regulatory attention. Remember pre-1996 Microsoft saying they didn't see a need to lobby? Well, after Janet Reno finished with them, they do not do that anymore [opensecrets.org].

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      No, it only matters when it benefits large Republican donors.

      The Republicans are pretty happy to regulate the hell out of your bedroom, your womb (should you have one,) your faith and anything else they happen to dislike. The whole "small government" and "deregulation" catch phrases are just that -- catch phrases. Republicans want just as much government as Democrats.. they just want it focused in a different direction.

  • The Republican attorney general of Missouri has launched an investigation into Google's business practices. Josh Hawley wants to know how Google handles user data. And he plans to look into whether Google is using its dominance in the search business to harm companies in other markets where Google competes. It's another sign of growing pressure Google is facing from the political right. Grassroots conservatives increasingly see Google as falling on the wrong side of the culture wars.

    They don't have a proble

  • by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2017 @11:22PM (#55552239)
    You are not google's customer. You are the product. There is no monopoly on search, there is almost no barrier to creating a new search engine and there is nothing sticky about me using Bing, Google or DuckDuckGo. Google is completely up front about what they do with the data people freely give them.

    Google is how ever a monopolist in advertising. If I want to buy advertising on the internet I go to Google. They make it easy, they give me amazing tools and they can sell me placement everywhere. No other advertiser on the non-facebook internet is even relevant. On the flip side if you want to sell advertising space on your website, unless you want to have a real sales team, you have no choice but to sell to Google. The barrier to entry in online advertising is massive. Search, email, maps, documents, etc., those are just added lines of defense to protect adwords.
    • No monopoly in search? Really? Google has something like 80% market share globally - that looks like a monopoly to me [source: https://www.netmarketshare.com... [netmarketshare.com]

      there is almost no barrier to creating a new search engine

      Yep, no barrier, except maybe millions of dollars and years of development work, oh and millions more in servers to actually crawl the Internet. Oh, and then somehow you've got to prize people away from their default browsers, 'mind share', phones and whatever else. Seems like small-potatoes to me too.

      Google is completely up front about what they do with the data people freely give them.

      Well, I'd disagree because people aren't aware o

      • Well, I'd disagree because people aren't aware of what they're giving google, and aren't aware of the ways it gets used either. "We use it to target ads at you" really doesn't do justice to the amount of data they scoop up and how much 'mining' they do on your data and how they use that data to influence you in various ways.

        Cite?

        Note that I'm not arguing with you, just asking for details and sources. I see claims like yours a lot, but no one ever seems to be able to explain in detail what other stuff Google does, or how they know about what other stuff Google does.

        • Well, I'd disagree because people aren't aware of what they're giving google, and aren't aware of the ways it gets used either.

          Cite?

          Are you saying there is a remote possibility that
          1. people are aware of what they're giving google, and
          2. people are aware of the ways it gets used ?

          Note that aware better mean "really sure, with evidence" rather than a hunch based on weasel words in Google's privacy policy.

          but no one ever seems to be able to explain in detail what other stuff Google does, or how they know about what other stuff Google does.

          Convenient when the "stuff Google does" is hidden behind closed doors on Google's servers. So even experts outside Google don't have access who could have analyzed it in some years, let alone "people".

          • People can certainly have suspicions, without means to confirm or deny. But many make bold assertions of bad behavior, apparently claiming certain knowledge. If there actually is evidence to support such assertions, I'd like to hear about it, so I regularly ask. I never get a reply, which I guess means that the assertions are actually just suspicions.
            • If there actually is evidence to support such assertions

              Which are the ways by which Google allows collecting such "evidence" ?

              • If there actually is evidence to support such assertions

                Which are the ways by which Google allows collecting such "evidence" ?

                Irrelevant. Asserting the existence of evidence you can't collect doesn't make sense. Asserting the possibility that such evidence may exist does make sense, but that's not what I constantly see slashdotters doing.

                • I am a slashdotter. It is not enough to not have proof that people's data is abused - it is necessary to have proof that people's data is not abused.

          • based on weasel words in Google's privacy policy.

            Oh, one more point.

            Try this sometime as an exercise. Take a privacy policy with "weasel words" in it, and try to rewrite it without them (assuming that the company actually doesn't want or intend to behave badly). Be absolutely sure that the resulting text cannot possibly be construed to imply that the company is not doing anything that it actually is (e.g. that your company isn't using user data to provide the services that the user wants provided), because the legal liability inherent in making claims t

            • Which is why anything other than server access and data access, without being NDA'ed so that experts can be consulted, is merely "weasel words".

              • Which is why anything other than server access and data access, without being NDA'ed so that experts can be consulted, is merely "weasel words".

                FWIW, the FTC has such access, pursuant to the Google Buzz consent decree, and regularly audits Google's compliance with the terms of the decree.

                • Ha, government is precisely the entity in whose hands Google's data is most dangerous. Government agencies disarming themselves/each other is quite a stupid expectation.

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      One thing to note: There's nothing wrong with or anything illegal about having a monopoly. What's illegal is when you try to use your monopoly power to either unfairly bully potential competitors (for example, but selling lower than cost because you can afford to do that and they can't) or when you try to use your monopoly power in one industry to unfairly advantage yourself in another industry (as Microsoft was sued for back in 1998 when they used their Windows platform dominance to force Internet Explor

  • Yes, well I would have thought being probed by Missouri republicans wouldnt be nice, those good ol' boys are always the sick ones.

  • by Kagetsuki ( 1620613 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @12:42AM (#55552435)

    It's not just "grassroots conservatives" that are worried about this. Re: the Demore memo, but also the fact Google was contributing to the Clinton campaign, and of course the "american scientist" search results. I'll grand that search result could be an organic result... but the fact we've had multiple engineers stating it's common practice to feed the engine specific data to "help" it find the right data does make me pretty suspicious. You can't deny most people use Google services, so if what they see come up on those services is manipulated for political gain, directly or indirectly, that's a pretty scary thing - especially when you consider there seems to be a large push for a non-meritocratic/anti-technocratic culture within the current ranks of Google employees.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      Google is company, and they can do whatever the hell they want with their search results...oh wait, I'm sorry. I forgot who was in power now. A bunch of fucking hypocrites who decry regulation except for when it becomes damaging to their case. Let me rephrase this:

      Google is a company, and they can do whatever the hell they want with their search results in order to support the neo-fascist extreme-right/alt-right agenda or we'll send in the jack-booted thugs to silence them.

      Here's a tip: Google isn't the onl

      • My issue is with illiberal practices, restrictions on freedom of speech and/or expression, and anti-meritocratic/anti-technocratic systems. Filtering information is an authoritarian practice - and one the Nazi's made ample use of. If the current government is trying prevent companies from censoring information on the grounds the company doesn't agree with, therefore fostering real freedom of speech and expression which is the foundation for a liberal society, then I don't care what government it is I'll sup

  • Reminder: If your a person who thinks "Companies should stay out of politics" and are not actively supporting folks like Bernie Sanders (Or one of the right wing equivilents who are against corporate donations to parties, assuming such a uniicorn exists) who are directly campaigning for banning corpoorate donations and lobbying, you are a hypocrite.

    No ifs , no buts, hypocrite.

    • Is it not possible to choose another candidate because "they do way more for me that Bernie Sanders, except they don't want to stop corporate political donations" without being a hypocrite? Is it not possible to have some sort of 'grey area'? Maybe some 'degrees of support'?

      In American politics, there is an enduring culture of "you're with us, or against us" - where it's not possible to support a candidate "a bit more" than another. Nope, you've got to love and cherish your chosen candidate 100%, forsaking

  • Not sure who the target here is with that much political talk, but remember that Socialist Europe does the same thing.

  • by McFortner ( 881162 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @04:05PM (#55557169)
    Funny how the people who distrust big business the most are the ones screaming about somebody wanting to shine the spotlight on Google.
  • I see this as a political strategy.

    1. Comment on how Business X is screwing the little guy, and state that legislation is needed.
    2. Open the door to the lobbyists
    3. Profit.

    You don't need to actually go through with #1. The threat along brings it home.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.

Working...