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Missouri Attorney General launches investigation of Google (kansascity.com)
126 points by elsewhen 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 121 comments



It seems like an easy way to generate some publicity for an Attorney General to sue Google. I watched with interest when the Mississippi AG did this (https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/01/mississippi-ag-j...).

It always seems to go back to some sort of privacy and/or surfacing web data that someone else doesn't want surfaced. I don't know if there is an easy answer here.


Yay! I am happy about this. I feel as if there are a ton of monopolies and trusts today that stifle competition. Does anyone else feel similar?


I don't. I use a mix of Google services and non-Google services, and I've never had a hard time finding a good competitor for a Google tool.


I'd love an actually decent competitor to Youtube.


I mean, I want the improvement in quality that usually comes with competition, but I don't actually want there to be competition. Does anyone really relish the idea of having to search multiple sites for a given video because you don't know or can't remember which one it's on, and having to have an account and different set of uploader subscriptions for Youtube A, B and C? And remember where the subscribe button is on A vs. B and does C support changing video speed or not? etc. Just one platform is a massive, MASSIVE perk of the current system.


Yeah, just like you don't really want to have more than one company hosting text on the web. Imagine the mess it would be if there were more than one company hosting text on the web! It's a massive perk of the current system that all text that is published on the web is hosted at the web hosting company!

But, quite seriously, I think we have a massive problem on our hands if even people who frequent hacker news just aren't aware of the concepts of standards and interoperability anymore, that a monopoly seems to be perceived as the only way to achieve integration at the user experience level.

Want to have more than one TV channel with a common user interface? Obviously, all TV channels need to be owned by one company!

Want to have more than one appliance with a common electricity supply infrastructure? Obviously, all appliances need to be provided by the one electricity supplier!

Want to have more than one newspaper in the same language and alphabet? Obviously, all newspapers and their common language and alphabet need to be owned by one company!

Want people all around the planet to be able to talk to each other remotely? Obviously, all telephones and telephone networks need to be owned and operated by one company!

I'd really like to understand how this thinking managed to take hold, given that it seems to be so obviously fallacious to me.


Indeed.

Really I want a decentralised system where I have my cake and eat it too, with a single mechanism for accessing my content while also not giving a single company control over and profit from the entire industry.

Oh, and this hypothetical decentralised system has to, well, not completely suck. Which means it's never going to happen.


Maybe there could be a search engine that finds videos on all video sites, and shows them according to some well-tested algorithm, without any bias? Oh, but the owners of such a search engine would need to be entirely neutral and unbiased. For instance, they should not also be owners of a video site that they would like to promote.

It's been a long time since the USA Justice Department went after a company for having a vertical monopoly, but this is a reminder of why vertical monopolies can inhibit innovation, just as much as horizontal ones.


Remember RSS feeds? :).


Good point. I split the eBooks I buy between Kindle, Google Books, and Apple iBooks. I do this to not put all my digital purchases in one basket, support competition, and sometimes take advantage of sales. It is a nuisance.

But, even though you make a good point, I disagree in the sense that I would like to see other services like Vimeo gain market share to balance things out. Trouble is, it is difficult for other services to compete with ‘free.’


It's as if twitch, amazon, and 5 million porn sites didn't exist.


Those aren't really Youtube though. I can go on youtube to listen to music or watch a video on rebuilding a carburetor self-published by some random guy, or catch a movie trailer, or even publish my own videos.


You can get money directly from the viewers with twitch, therefore making it far superior than YouTube. The idea that YouTube is monopoly because people are to afraid of moving to other options is silly



Twitch is a video gaming streaming service.

YouTube is a general video service.

Twitch isn't superior.


Vimeo?


Vimeo isn't, and doesn't want to be, a YouTube competitor.


Facebook and vid.me as well. And twitch for streaming.


Nobody is going to mention DailyMotion?


You've found a good competitor to Google search?


This question is loaded. Google does not index search results of other search providers and it never has, because it would create a really bad and potentially buggy user experience (Click through 10 search results to get the real link (if you don't go in a full loop!))

However if you search "Google Search Alternatives" on Google, it displays a large, pronounced box at the top, declaring "Here are 12 alternatives to escape your reliance on Google for all things search."


The poster above was claiming to not have trouble "finding a good competitor" to Google's services. I simply asked if they found one to Google's most synonymous service: search.


Bing at least claims to be. Is Bing enough worse that it isn't a usable alternative?


I've been daily-driving Bing for a few years now, and the only time I switch to Google is for searches on obscure programming errors. I've otherwise had no issues finding anything.


This is what killed Bing for me. I work at a .NET heavy company and it seemed like Bing was pushing (possibly not intentionally) MSDN and MS forums pretty hard. That generally was not where the answers to my questions were, and after a while I just gave up on it.


I tried DDG for a while. Search results were pretty good for me (and w! so! etc are nice), but google is so much faster. That takes capital investment, for local centers around the world. I'll try bing for a while.


I used it for 3 weeks in china, it is really bad compared to google imo. I could not wait to switch back.


DuckDuckGo


Somehow, I doubt Google is worrying about the next move that DuckDuckGo will make in competition with them.


Google names DuckDuckGo as their competitor. I think it's taken seriously.


Google has an incentive to name competitors because they have a monopoly. Which regulators like to observe.

Microsoft did the same when they were investigated.


It’s not about your google app use. The ad industry in the US is about 150 billion. Google is pulling about 90 billion in ad revenue.


It's an exciting time for antitrust. The movement is getting stronger on both sides of the aisle [1].

[1] https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/novemberdecember-2017...


I think we should make life difficult for companies from a certain size on. These large companies kill competition and innovation.


I would prefer we "make life difficult" for companies based on their behavior, not their size.

At the risk of sounding like a libertarian, I'm of the mind that monopolies aren't inherently bad until they start buying politicians and bills that reinforce their hold on the market.

Tesla is huge for electric-only car companies, but I don't hear the average person screaming that they should be shut down in states where they are trying to bypass dealership-protectionist state laws. In fact, there are anecdotes of people buying Teslas used from other states because they (aren't|weren't) available new in some states.


Monopolies are inherently bad because not being subject to competitive forces means they can charge what the market can bear, rather than the rate set by competition. This is bad for the consumer, bad for competition, and bad for the economy (fewer people are making transactions than at the market clearing price, slowing down economic growth). If that makes you sound like a libertarian it speaks poorly to their general economic literacy.

On the flip side, Tesla is also treated a lot better than smaller competitors, because its size enables it to play states off against each other:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigafactory_1#State_competitio...


> Monopolies are inherently bad

Yeah but is Tesla a tiny car company or a monopoly electric car company?


It's neither? It has more market power than, say, Chevrolet, but less than AT&T. Receiving ~1.25Bn from the taxpayer where smaller companies wouldn't get anything is more a function of its size and institutional failure on behalf of the individual states.


I don't think Tesla is anywhere close to market dominance. Their problem may be more long-term survival than achieving a monopoly in my view.


They are leading in the niche, but that's besides the point: market power refers to the ability to raise prices above what is truly competitive, which they certainly have to some extent while not being a monopoly.


> ... market power refers to the ability to raise prices above what is truly competitive, which they certainly have to some extent while not being a monopoly.

Have they really, though? I mean, a Maserati is also priced very highly. Certainly much higher than what is "truly competitive" for a luxury vehicle. But I don't think anyone would call them a monopoly. Likewise, Tesla is selling a unique product within a class, and some people are willing to pay more for that product. In other words, they have a product with a competitive advantage, and that allows them to price higher than the competition. This is healthy and normal elastic demand. I mean, price was a big reason the Model 3 presold in a week about three times the entire Model S volume.


The typical argument in that favour is that a product comes with certain intangible benefits, be it social signalling or personal actualisation that helps explain why firms with strong brand identity can push higher margins in otherwise competitive markets. This is a partial explanation to the extent that it doesn't play nicely with another prevailing theory that mindshare and niche dominance enables market power through greater information asymmetry. The presence of a larger car market curtails how market power can be exercised, to the extent that your hydrocarbon cars are substitute goods for electric ones.

I have no real issue with Tesla from a competitive perspective. I'm simply making two fairly seperate points, that monopolies are always bad, and Tesla has accrued many more benefits from the state than penalties, on account of its size.


They created a little niche in large market but it's pretty easy to avoid them if you don't like their cars.


I'm just saying determination of market is hard, it is responsible for endless arguments in trade and tax law.

I used to think we should have a form of progressive taxation based on market power. Incent, but do not mandate, smaller firms. Tax anticompetitive potential to siphon rents.

I still like the theory but now worry it would be unmanageable because market determination is an unsolved problem.


> Monopolies are inherently bad because not being subject to competitive forces

Some companies are a "monopoly" in a small sector, but there are substitute products which are close enough to provide market-like forces. Don't want to pay for a Tesla? Buy an internal-combustion engine car, a gas-electric hybrid car, pay a premium for a Fisker Kharma, get one of the less desirable tiny electrics from any one of a dozen tiny-production manufacturers, or simply buy a Tesla used.

If Tesla was a monopoly, they could (would?) charge far more now than they are for the early delivery units (time-price discrimination). As far as I can tell, they have biased early delivery Model 3 cars to premium features, but they are charging the same price in delivery month 1 than delivery month 3.

> If that makes you sound like a libertarian it speaks poorly to their general economic literacy.

I'm reasonably well versed on the basics of economics (both classical and behavioral). "Libertarian" comes with a connotation, which I don't prefer to adopt. Some of it comes from Ayn Rand acolytes, some from the ignorance/naiveté of AnCaps (although I admit that there's enough ignorance on all sides of economics).

But more extreme libertarians tend to think that the market will correct itself faster and better than any government intervention, so "monopolies don't exist for long in free-market conditions" (although this assumes perfect information transparency, which never has and never will exist).

> On the flip side, Tesla is also treated a lot better than smaller competitors, because its size enables it to play states off against each other

Every big company that has already raised the funds (or promise of funds) can get similar attention and courting when shopping for a cite for jobs. It's not unique to Tesla, or even large companies:

  * Amazon is shopping with HQ2 to major metro areas
  * Google Fiber had cities put together competitive bids, including cutting red tape and cheap access to utility poles
  * Wisconsin just offered a *massive* tax discount package to woo FoxConn to build a factory in the US
  * Almost *every* auto manufacturer gets courted by different states to build plants (incl. Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, etc) in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama
  * Boeing gets many bids on their plants and Airbus recently got similar incentives for building a plant in Alabama
  * The Kansas Cities (two adjacent cities in two states) have long been at economic war, offering unsustainable tax incentives to keep companies from "crossing the street" into another tax jurisdiction[1]
  * Video Effects ("VFX") is in a tax-free treadmill[2]
[1] https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21599368-missou...

[2] http://www.studiodaily.com/2013/04/ending-the-vfx-crisis-wha...


Google has done a few things in the antitrust area that are noteworthy. http://graphics.wsj.com/google-ftc-report/


Great, let's focus the discussion on that -- not on their size.


As someone who identifies mostly as a libertarian, monopolies are inherently bad and almost exclusively caused by government. If a company has nothing but market share and reputation to keep users or prevent competition from stepping up that is not a monopoly. I think you meant simply that being a popular service is not a bad thing. Corporatism and government kick backs and protections cause the economic issues and stifle small competition.


" I would prefer we "make life difficult" for companies based on their behavior, not their size."

It's pretty hard to measure behavior but size is easier to measure. As as Tesla goes they are still a very small company compared to their competition so I don't think there is any need to think about their market power and suppression of competition.


> As as Tesla goes they are still a very small company compared to their competition so I don't think there is any need to think about their market power and suppression of competition.

It all depends how you slice and dice, which is the flexibility and the unjust part of anticompetitive lawsuits.

Did MS have a "monopoly" on browsers just by bundling IE with Windows? How much effort would it take for consumers to install Mozilla or Opera or AOL?

Does Apple have a monopoly on "apps"? You can always buy an Android to avoid an iPhone, a Surface to avoid an iPad, a Zune to avoid an iPod (oh, wait...). You can argue that Apple has a monopoly on the Apple iTunes/App stores, but is it an honest argument if you look at the wider industry?

I would argue that size still doesn't mean anything. Apple is huge but they got there because consumers willingly bought their products. There was no geographical monopoly (as utilities have), no IP monopoly (iPod competed with Zune, MBP with a lot of WinTel laptops, iPad with Surface, iPhone with any number of feature Phones, BlackBerries, and later Android), and they didn't pay legislators to build walls that benefitted Apple.

Does Google deserve to be sued for anticompetitive behavior? Perhaps. Does Google deserve to be sued just because it's large? No.


The game would change, they would just do as much behavior as they can get away with until they got large enough to change the law.


That's a hypothetical in a world that doesn't (yet) exist. Let's leave the lawsuits for when actual harm has happened, not potential harm.


20 years ago, people wondered could anyone overtake Microsoft. But look at the big tech companies now.

1. Apple -- approaching a one trillion dollar market cap was almost bankrupt 20 years ago.

2. Amazon -- a little spunky online book seller

3 Google - a little research project that wasn't even incorporated

4 Facebook -- wouldn't exist for 7 years.

As hard as MS tried, they weren't able to kill competition.


Microsoft's troubles started after the DOJ antitrust investigations. I think if Microsoft had been allowed to aggressively leverage their Windows monopoly as they wished, we woul be looking at a far different landscape now


This seems to be a great example of correlation does not imply causation.

Sadly I can't disprove this fallacy because I don't have a counterfactual world to show you.

But I would argue that if you look at post-DOJ Microsoft, that also happened to be the same time that:

  * Microsoft was rudderless
  * the internet became the source of lots of extremely cheap software (including SaaS),
  * Windows software quality gave us gifts like Conficker
  * Microsoft was busy prosecuting software pirates and burdoning legit users with licensing keys
  * Microsoft lost out on smart phones, tablets, cloud services, etc which grew *far* faster than desktop software
  * OS X became a more compelling alternative to Windows for home/business users
  * Linux continued to eat Windows server market share
You are blaming the DOJ (ad EU Commission) investigations for Microsoft being a massive ship and turning slowly in an age of rapid innovation. They got fat on intellectual property and patents, then never bothered to trim their business to their core competency. Perhaps this will change in the post-Balmer years, but only time will tell. I would argue that the only thing that Microsoft has really dominated recently has been console-based gaming, and it's not because MS got split up for anti-competitive behavior (because they didn't).


Did the DOJ stop MS from trying to compete in Music - where Apple first mounted its comeback before the iPhone. No, Microsoft has tried and failed at music four times.

Did the DOJ prevent Microsoft from trying to compete at search - where Google dominates. No, MS has poured billions in Bing.

MS didn't try to compete in social or ecommerce.


It seems we are trading one behemoth against another. I would much prefer if we had more smaller companies competing with each other.


In other words: Unless you kill all competition forever, you aren't killing competition at all?

Should we apply the same to homicides? Unless you kill everyone with no survivors left, you didn't kill anyone?


Comcast and Monsanto being the worst.


The fact they they actively prevent some Adsense publishers while making an exception for others (in the field of Marijuana, for example), is enough for me to be on board with this. They're big enough to play favorites.


I don't.

Why do we want or even trust government to decide for us that a company is too big and needs to be smaller or that a company should conducts it business in the way that the government wants it to. As long as a company isn't somehow forcing me to use it services, I'm free to go elsewhere.

If you don't like Google don't use it. The fact that you desire something from Google that it isn't giving you (searching with more privacy, better free email service, whatever) doesn't give you some sort of moral claim against the company.

The public can vote for other companies by buying from or using them. As a last resort, start a new company and run it the way you want.


> As long as a company isn't somehow forcing me to use it services, I'm free to go elsewhere.

You might want to educate yourself on an economic concept called network effects:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect

> The fact that you desire something from Google that it isn't giving you (searching with more privacy, better free email service, whatever) doesn't give you some sort of moral claim against the company.

Doesn't that depend on what it is that you expect and which role Google (or any other company or person) plays in withholding whatever it is that you do expect from you?

> The public can vote for other companies by buying from or using them.

Well, yes, it can, and one way to implement that is by organizing a government that enforces it, no?

If your argument is that people can do so through independent individual decisions: Well, to some degree they can, but even then I don't see why they necessarily should? If Google, say, can organize a ton of people to work unified towards its goals, why shouldn't the public at large do the same?

But I guess more importantly: To a large degree, you actually can't. Where network effects or scaling efficiencies are involved, there are many situations in which it would be a huge sacrifice with extremely high risk to individually decide against the (quasi-)monopoly, even though overall society would be better off if many people did. In such situations, coordination between actors is required to achieve the better outcome for everyone. That is a role that government can play: To enable coordination between members of a public in order to reach the critical mass that is necessary to move from a (quasi-)monopolistic equilibrium to the overall better equilibrium of multiple competing offers.


That'd be a fine option if it was a real option.


>Why do we want or even trust government to decide for us that a company is too big and needs to be smaller or that a company should conducts it business in the way that the government wants it to. As long as a company isn't somehow forcing me to use it services, I'm free to go elsewhere.

Should we get rid of IP laws then? Isn't copyright a government granted monopoly?


Comcast is a good counterexample that basically destroys this entirely naive line of thinking.

In industries where huge capital costs are the barrier to entry, the market is not open or free, and requires regulation.


> If you don't like Google don't use it.

What happens when people don't know they're using Google?

I have an Android phone and one thing that is bugging me is how the default browser on the bottom "toolbar" is in fact named "Internet". This may be fine for techies like you and me, but I'm concerned for the older folk who may have difficulty with technology or non-techies. In this case, if one just went with the defaults, one wouldn't even know you were using a Google-built browser.

Remember that old story back when Internet Explorer was dominating the market, and most people surveyed couldn't tell the difference between the web and a web browser? They pointed to the "e" browser logo and said, "That's the internet!"

This is a nasty pattern in tech these days. On my laptop which carries Windows 10, the programs aren't named in such a way to identify that they are Microsoft programs [0]. You see an email client named "Mail" and a map service named "Maps". No indication that they are Microsoft Mail or Microsoft (Bing) Maps.

Also, on Windows 10 when you log in you are presented with a "photo of the day". If you click on any of the links on that image, the URLs will be opened in Microsoft Edge, and any searches are performed using Bing, regardless if you set your default browser to something else!

[0] https://s18.postimg.org/ipxt1962h/default.png


I have an Android phone and one thing that is bugging me is how the default browser on the bottom "toolbar" is in fact named "Internet". This may be fine for techies like you and me, but I'm concerned for the older folk who may have difficulty with technology or non-techies. In this case, if one just went with the defaults, one wouldn't even know you were using a Google-built browser.

I'm assuming that you're using a Samsung phone, in which case "Internet" is the Samsung browser, not Google's Chrome. http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/apps/samsung-internet/

(But I think you made your point;)


Remember that old story back when Internet Explorer was dominating the market, and most people surveyed couldn't tell the difference between the web and a web browser? They pointed to the "e" browser logo and said, "That's the internet!"

How did that whole trying to use their monopoly to dominate the market work out for Microsoft in hindsight?

There was time that AOL was the number one ISP and MySpace was the number one social media platform.


It didn't work out for Microsoft, namely because lawsuits and coverage brought attention to the issue of market dominance. That's what people on this HN article are proposing we do today. And it's about time, given that our current economy is vastly different from the one a century ago when anti-trust laws started springing up.

You haven't addressed the core of my previous comment though, regarding how big tech companies today are obscuring their branding to mislead (in my opinion) users to be completely unaware they are even using a (insert big tech company name here) product. The part of my comment you quoted wasn't me trying to talk about the rise and fall of Internet Explorer's monopoly. Rather, it was me pointing out what I believe to be a nasty dark pattern of tech today, where tech companies are building black-box products.


Yeah, how did it work out that the EU forced Microsoft to unbundle its browser?


It's not "unbundling" the browser that caused Microsoft to lose its dominance in the technology industry. None of the big four major technology companies today - Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon -depend on their browser being dominant. Microsoft failed to take advantage of the next major technology waves - mobile, search, social, and ecommerce.

Unbundling the browser didn't help the other browser manufacturers.


What phone? Samsung maybe? On my Google Pixel, there's nothing calling itself "Internet".


In case you got a weird sense of deja vu, this is Missouri, not Mississippi.

Mississippi's AG, Jim Hood vs Google: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/01/mississippi-ag-j...


I haven't read Axios before, but I really appreciated that summary. I got the gist of what the lawsuit concerned and what the ulterior motive might be and there weren't 10 more unnecessary paragraphs with no real information padding it out. It's almost exactly the right amount of concise.


I'm very wary of Republican politicians doing anything like this. They're the primary enemies of Net Neutrality thanks to lobbyists, and the big telecoms that spend money lobbying them tried to drive a narrative that Google was "getting a free ride" on their networks. Combine those factors, and you can imagine a very simple diagram of telecoms applying legal pressure to Google via the politicians they've purchased.


A politician elected on a populist platform doing things to stand up for his people is an "ulterior motive"? To me, an ulterior motive would be getting elected on a populist platform, then taking actions to benefit his own commercial interests.


Why does your definition of an "ulterior" motive require commercial benefit?

Are you suggesting that, if this man had a secret reason for going after Google, and that reason was that it was part of his plan to boost his popularity and name recognition with local conservatives by shitting on "liberal" companies in order to boost his chances of winning a seat in the Senate, it would somehow not count as an "ulterior motive"?

Mind you, I'm not saying that this is the case. Maybe he's just going after a big company for a good reason. But your suggestion that an ulterior motive could not even theoretical exist because he's not engaged in commerce seems ridiculous.


I don't see anything in the currently-linked piece that speaks to an ulterior motive? Surely you're not just suspicious because he's a Missourian?

Having served in public office for about ten months, Hawley has very little record as a public official. He was a law professor before running for this office. Trying to read the fact that he's a Republican as some sort of secret clue to his motives is foolish.

I, for one, was delighted to be able to vote for an AG candidate who isn't a former prosecutor. Locking up hundreds or thousands of people for victimless fake crimes is toxic to one's soul, and usually we get a "choice" between two such corrupted sociopaths for this office. Time will tell if Hawley will be tempted down that awful path, but the fact that his first "big" initiative has nothing to do with taking revenge on pitiful unfortunates as a proxy for old people's frustration with the general direction of societal change is a good thing.


Ah, sorry for the confusion, the suggestion of motive came from the original link, which was apparently changed after my comment from: https://www.axios.com/missouri-ag-starts-antitrust-consumer-...

I agree that going after big companies is better than just being "tough on crime" and trying to get conviction numbers as high as possible regardless of harm. And I have no idea whether this particular charge is fair or not. I wouldn't normally read into his political leanings as automatically implying motive, but they're relevant here given that Hawley just announced his run for US Senate a few weeks ago and now has followed up on that by going after a company that is generally thought of as being on the Left.


My definition doesn’t require a commercial interest. It’s just amazing to me in an age where politicians are typically benefitting their or their crony’s commercial interests that a guy who is elected on a populist platform is accused of having an ulterior motive for defending the interests of the people as he promised, because that might cause his constituents to elect him to a different office and serve them further.


Among other things, this seems to carry the implicit premise that prosecuting Google for antitrust violations is a populist issue. I would wager that if you polled it, you would find the exact opposite.


Perhaps you might want to give this a read if you think Google’s power is of no concern:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/technology/frightful-five...


That's not what I said. The claim is that it's not a populist position, not that it's not the correct one.


> An ulterior motive would be...to benefit his own commercial interests.

> My definition (of ulterior motive) doesn’t require a commercial interest.


To the grammatically hindered, my use of the ellipses (...) implies other possibilities than what is written.


There are so many actual monopolies that seemly get ignored. Maybe google needs to buy I mean donate to more politicians.


They should learn from Comcast, which manages to bribe government in banning their competiton :)


If you're talking AT&T/Time Warner, then consider Time Warner own CNN's parent company.. I doubt Comcast's bribes are necessary for the current government.


Google is already one of the top spenders on lobbying, along with Comcast, Boeing and AT&T.


And I was just lobbying Google Fiber employees about expanding fiber (or wireless) to my hometown, St. Joseph, which is near Kansas City.


It's actually correctly pronounced Missouri.

But it's nice to see our state in the news for a good purpose.


We've updated the URL from https://www.axios.com/missouri-ag-starts-antitrust-consumer-..., which points to this.


I'm guessing someone in Missouri didn't get their political payoff this month.


Google is a target because of their strong relationship with Obama/Clinton/democrats.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/technology/google-in-post...


Whether or not that's true we need commenters to include substantive information when making such claims, otherwise we're just gonna have another tedious partisan flamewar.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


seems to me that google cultivates a relationship with whoever they see has influence. same as everyone.


Translation: We need money and we are watching the EU take incredible amounts of money in fines, and it occurred to someone “Why can’t we do that?!”


The EU doesn't fine to fund itself. Fines are not a good funding source.


You obviously don't understand the state of public finance in Missouri. They haven't changed their income tax brackets since the 1930s. They recently constitutionally banned sales taxes from being applied to services which guts their future ability to broaden their overly narrow sales tax base. They've basically cut their taxes in all the wrong ways so that actually funding their state is increasingly a problem.


Just look at where cops do traffic monitoring (aka speed traps). In Germany they are supposed to put speed traps in areas with a large amount of accidents caused by speeding, but many end up being placed simply where people casually speed in tiny amounts (e.g. 20 km/h too fast is 30€)... and a single trap can bring 15M € per year (http://www.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de/inhalt.verkehrsueberwa...).

In total, speed traps in Germany are estimated to bring in billions of euros in revenue (https://www.welt.de/motor/article13877289/Das-Milliardengesc...). There are many agencies which can place speed traps and profit - federal, country, county and city cops, in addition to city personnel and sometimes even private companies.

They are not a good funding source, but a very consistent one once you find the right spots to milk people.


Speeding fines can only be levied by the municipality in which the violation took place. That's exactly one entity.

What you didn't mention is that (since removed) 15 M€ speeding trap was located on a downhill stretch with a high risk of traffic jams and not only placed for revenue.

German speeding fines are minuscule in international comparison. Just try "casually speeding" 20 km/h in any neighboring country.

Speeding is a German national sport leading to a vicious circle of decreasing limits even further.


> Speeding fines can only be levied by the municipality in which the violation took place. That's exactly one entity.

No, it's two entities at the least in urban areas: the police and the municipality.

> German speeding fines are minuscule in international comparison.

Yes, which makes people speed in higher amounts and only because of this the system of traps bringing in 15M+€ actually works - yes you get the occasional dumb moron with 50+ km/h, but the most part is netted by the small fish speeding 10-20 km/h.


20 km/h is not casually speeding, it's willfully -- or at least ignorantly -- risky and dangerous driving in most situations. Altho highway and residential streets are certainly different situations.

http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/r... https://www.science.org.au/curious/technology-future/physics...


30 euros? Try 350 in California.


They are a decent ancillary source. The EU has a fixed multi year budget, fines are one way they use to supplement it.


This is bizarre. It's also bizarre how the reporting on it doesn't mention how out of left field this is. Why Google? why Missouri? How come a republican is doing this?

As for: The United States has lagged behind Europe in pursuing antitrust cases against tech giants

This narrative is silly. The EU goes after "tech giants" partly because they are foreign, the US doesn't have that incentive.


1) Why Google?

Because media attention and it plays well with the current Missouri AG's base. e.g. pseudo-libertarian, anti-big brother, technology, coast-elites, etc.

There are no statutes in Missouri that regulate in any meaningful way the use of consumer data by technology companies. Also, actual law enforcement or regulatory investigations are rarely proceeded with press releases to the effect of "we are going to investigate you", so I would imagine this doesn't go further than said press release and Google spending some money at one of Missouri's larger law firms.

2) Why Missouri? How come a republican is doing this?

Current AG [1] is the likely republican nominee for the Senate seat currently held by Claire McCaskill. It will likely be an extraordinarily expensive and contested race with tons of money and resources flowing into the election from across the country. Despite winning statewide office in the Missouri Trump-landslide, current AG is relatively unknown. I imagine he will be using his office to make a name for himself in the coming months. (I'm not saying that is any different than his predecessors, both democrat and republican -- both have used the office as a political soapbox to propel them to their next office.)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Hawley [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claire_McCaskill


Nah, the EU also goes after local champions, see for example the Vitamin case:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-01-1625_en.htm

It's just that the US has become extremely lax in its anti-trust stance.


That's from 16 years ago. To give context, that's six years before the treaty of Lisbon which defines the EU Commission today.


The article provides possible explanations. A politician running for office soon positions himself as fighting on behalf of the local little man and against big bad out of state corporation. It's pretty much the exact kind of populist protectionism that has lately proven to be politically effective.


The guy looks relatively young, if I had to guess I'd go with the cultural warrior angle, I bet this guy is fully aware of the Jim Damore saga.


Europe has a bad history with records misused to later pursue political enemies. The records the Germans used come to mind, but also things like the Staszi secret police in East Germany.

Interestingly, a lot of stuff that just “works” in America is dangerous when exported abroad. This is a strange sociological concept I only encountered recently, but one example is that the American conception of “fame”, dating back to PT Barnum‘s days, was an impetus for fascism in America. So something that’s “culturally safe” in the US due to our history and institutions can be dangerous when exported abroad.

For more information, check out the book “The Frenzy of Renown”.

The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History https://www.amazon.com/dp/0679776303/


The EU also has vastly different anti trust laws. There's no point pursuing some of the cases prosecuted in the EU in the US, because you would lose.


> The EU goes after "tech giants" partly because they are foreign, the US doesn't have that incentive.

Really? It went after AT&T before and split it up and it wasn't foreign. How do you see the "foreign" part being significant here?

Though it would be interesting to think about Google pulling out of Missouri saying "Ok, you want to sue us? Fine no Google presence there" as soon as it detects an accounts or user connecting from there it returns an error and that's that. Wonder if that is possible?


Bring it on. That lawsuit would be open-and-shut. Also VPNs.


> The EU goes after "tech giants" partly because they are foreign

what's the other part?


Missouri 2017 State Budget: $27 Billion [0]

Google Net Profit Last 4 Qs: $63 Billion

Google can literally fund the state of Missouri indefinately. How does Missouri make this a fair fight?

[0] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/missouri/articles/20...


How does Missouri make this a fair fight?

The power of government. Missouri can definitely pay for quite a few attorneys (maybe do a tobacco litigation type deal) but the danger is that other states will join in. Having taken on Google can be quite a thing on your resume as you seek higher office...who will resist it?


Surely you mean the taxpayers of Missouri will be paying for a long and protracted legal battle. And once they find out the amount they paid to pad his resume they'll have a thing or two to say on how Missouri funds were used.


Always been like that. But personally I think Google should be investigated and stopped, smaller companies will again have a chance.

I assume that they are safeguards: the governor might be able to intervene if an AG goes nuts, the courts etc etc.


A monopoly on force?




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