Lawmakers are rightly concerned with foreign interference in the election, but what if the call is actually coming from inside our house? Project Veritas reports on allegations of election interference by Google, using its near-monopoly power to warp search-engine results and content on its platforms to favor Democrats. Its latest undercover video features a clearly disgusted technical manager at Google accusing his employer of “playing selective god” with its market domination in order to advance its “leftist agenda.”
And speaking of foreign interference, Ritesh Lakhkar also warns PV’s undercover reporter about China’s increasing influence over Google and American politicians, too:
“I feel suffocated at Google,” said Ritesh Lakhkar, a technical program manager in Google’s Cloud division, to a Project Veritas undercover journalist. “Because on one side you have this professional or unprofessional attitude, and on the other side, you have this ultra-leftist attitude, and your entire existence is questioned.”
Lakhkar said Google exercises deity-like control over the information Americans receive.
“You’re like playing selective God,” he said.
“If it was fraud, it doesn’t matter, but for Trump, Melania Trump, it matters, and on the other side, Trump says something, misinformation, you’re gonna delete that because it’s illegal under whatever pretext,” he said. “If a Democratic leader says that, then you’re gonna leave it like that, so I’m like, okay, you’re not following one way or the other. You are just plain and simple trying to play God.”
In this instance, the undercover aspect of this video seems almost superfluous. Lakhkar doesn’t seem concerned about Google knowing his opinion. Also, the video doesn’t tell us much that we don’t already know by observation — that Google manipulates its search results for its own purposes. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that they have political purposes, and even less difficult to know what that means in the partisan context.
The problem isn’t so much the corruption, but the power that Google’s corruption can access. It’s that kind of market power to play God that anti-trust legislation is supposed to prevent, and this administration has finally decided to confront that situation with Google. The Department of Justice launched a long-awaited anti-trust lawsuit over their monopolistic behavior earlier today:
The Department of Justice is expected Tuesday to charge Google with violating federal antitrust law, according to two people familiar with the matter, finding after a year-long investigation that the tech giant wrongfully wielded its digital dominance to the detriment of corporate rivals and consumers.
The federal government’s imminent lawsuit will touch off a landmark and lengthy legal war between Washington and Silicon Valley, one that could have vast implications not only for Google but the entirety of a tech industry that has faced new, unprecedented scrutiny in recent years for the unrivaled power, money and data it has amassed. …
A federal antitrust lawsuit marks the start, not the end, of the government’s gambit against Google. It could take years for a federal court to resolve whether the company violated the country’s competition laws and, if so, what punishments it should may face. Only Republican state attorneys general are expected to sign onto the DOJ’s complaint, the Post has previously reported. Other states later may choose to join the Justice Department suit, or they still yet may bring their own lawsuits against the tech giant, widening the legal ground Google must cover to defend its business from serious, potentially far-reaching changes.
But the filing alone still serves as a stunning turn of events for Google, roughly seven years after the federal government last probed the company for potential antitrust violations — an inquiry that regulators concluded without suing Google or seeking significant penalties, including its breakup. The inaction in Washington for years has stood in stark contrast to the withering antitrust scrutiny Google has faced in Europe, where competition regulators over the past decade have slapped the Mountain View, California-based tech behemoth with $9 billion in fines and sought to secure major changes to the way it offers search, advertising and Android, its smartphone operating system.
The reason why Google got a few years’ respite in the US is because it took the requisite lessons from the last time around. Google used its muscle on behalf of the allies of the previous administration; its problem this time is that it didn’t use it effectively enough in 2016 for those allies. Even so, Republicans largely allowed them to skate over the past three years even while House Democrats built an anti-trust case against them, resulting in this too-little, too-late effort by the Trump administration.
If conservatives don’t like corporations playing God with speech and market access, they’d better get a lot more comfortable with enforcement of the Sherman Act. Otherwise, they will find themselves locked out by their own blindness in ignoring the accumulation of political as well as economic capital into the hands of fewer and fewer people. Those hands don’t belong to free-marketeers, nor are they amenable to competition, not in products, services, or ideas.
Addendum: Jeff Dunetz has the court filings embedded in his post. The lawsuit calls Google a “monopoly gatekeeper,” which Lakhkar certainly corroborates. Be sure to read Jeff’s entire post.