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Google's Monopoly-Based Foreign Policy (mattstoller.substack.com)
336 points by DeusExMachina 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments

I’ve just read the Reuters story that is linked. The Turkish government said that they were not legally permitted to sell phones with the current contract; so Google stopped selling an illegal product until they could resolve the issue.

If Google kept selling the phones without resolving the issue then they would be subject to fines. How is complying with local laws a Dangerous Foreign Policy act?

> “We’ve informed our business partners that we will not be able to work with them on new Android phones to be released for the Turkish market,” the Google statement said.

The article also says that Google won't be working with their business partners on new phones. The article spins this as demanding to "work with" Turkey, which strikes me as an overstatement in service of the argument that Google is discriminating against smaller countries.

The author does seem to believe that Google should be compelled to do a maximum amount of business in every possible market until the State Department steps in. It's the authors contention that doing less than this is a Dangerous Foreign Policy Act.

Well, it says Google were informed of this in 2018, and that the hammer didn't come down until late 2019. I think it's fair to say that Google intend to stop dealing with Turkey rather than comply with the local law, they're not temporarily pulling their products while they "resolve the issue".

Whether or not you see this as merely a company pulling out of a market where they don't like the regulations or a Dangerous Foreign Policy is another question. I assume that the author sees is as the latter due to Google's immense size and power.

Perhaps I am not understanding the implications, but is Google supposed to be forced to make its phones available in Turkey?

Google is perfectly capable of untying their search from Android via a software update, because that’s the remedy they already developed and use in Russia. Turkey is asking them to turn on the same capability. Google is saying they could but that they won’t, because Turkey isn’t a big enough country to make them.

And yes, if Google is breaking US and international anti-trust laws, “forcing” people to do things is generally the remedy of last resort.

Or rather, the cost of providing Android and supporting the Turkish market outweighs the money they can make now that their search engine is no longer allowed exclusive billing on Android phones. To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if we see further retreats like this from Google.

Or perhaps the Russian market was large enough that the return on continued investment in it despite the required changes justified remaining in it and the Turkish market isn't large enough to justify continuing to invest in it.

What investment? Google already develops Android, they already developed the “untying” feature for Russia. What’s left? Turkish Localization? I find it hard to believe that even a 50% mobile search share in Turkey won’t pay those incremental costs.

I find it much more believable that this is a simple pressure play.

Ongoing support for the Turkish market. Technical support staff who can speak Turkish, documentation in the Turkish language, and a team of developers to handle Turkish-specific i18n bugs. None of these are 'incremental' costs.

They already have all of that. Android and Google search are localized to Turkish.

My thinking is that if this argument is true, Google should be the one making it. They don’t need HN to “reverse engineer” a defense for them, particularly one that may not be factually correct.

Please don't shift goalposts - you asked a question (on HN!), got an answer here (based on conjecture), and you now want an official Google response that breaks down the reasons?

My point is simply that the conjecture seems difficult to believe on the face of it, but that I would be willing to revisit my beliefs if Google actually made the claim. The fact that Google has made no such claim makes it more difficult to take seriously.

Edited to be more substantive.

wait - technical support staff? From Google?

Anyway, less facetiously, while some Turkish-specific i18n bugs will need special focus I suppose most of them will not need anything more than a the normal developer team gives them. For example when I was developing a solution that also needed to be available in Greenlandic there were some bugs related to the language, but I did not actually need to speak the language to be able to solve the bugs. I doubt they will really need a team of developers just to solve the Turkish language bugs.

Turkey is more than half as large as Russia in population and GDP. It‘s not exactly a small market.

Household income per capita in Turkey is less than 1/2 of that in Russia.

And what? They all want and need smartphones, and they'll get them somehow, even if they're Chinese knock-offs.

Maybe Turkey can do other things in retaliation such as: ban Google from operating in Turkey until they comply, block Google, join the Eurasian Economic Union and sign an agreement with Russia and the other members, forcing Google treat all EAEU members equally or get out of those markets.

No, it really shouldn't. Which still leaves the question why it did in spite of the laws in the first place. Those aren't a recent addition, other countries with similar laws had already fined them in the past, resulting in rather localized licensing changes. So why did Google sell its phones in a country despite knowing that it was breaking laws with its current licensing agreements?

The answer is most likely that profit > laws, so they did what they could get away with as long as they could. In my opinion those fines should be backdated to the day the EU found them in violation and they decided to limit the resulting changes to a single region.

> is Google supposed to be forced to make its phones available in Turkey

Well yes, because free trade, globalization, equality and other buzzwords.


The reality is that historical big companies have always sparred with nation-states. Usually the EIC, but occasionally other firms.

They went roughly 50/50. "Won" in China. Lost in America.

OPEC said "no oil for you" and it worked. And no one invaded or otherwise compelled them to sell oil to people they didn't like.

> OPEC said "no oil for you" and it worked. And no one invaded or otherwise compelled them to sell oil to people they didn't like.

This is like world history as told by Dreamworks.

They didn't invade immediately.

And yes, it ultimately drove the west to start developing it's own oil resources and become less reliant on OPEC products, but that worked in the wests favor, as you would expect internal development of a Googledroid replacement to go for Turkey. Seems to be going okay for China.

And the EIC ultimately lost influence in China and India and was no more. So it might be in a company's best interest to play nice with nation-states

Dude you don't get it, google BAD!!!

On paper, this is not really wrong. You can't force a shop owner to sell his products to you if he doesn't want to. Similarly, I just don't have the rights in forcing you to sell your house to me. I'm sure services like Netflix or Disney Plus are probably still not available in some countries. If you visit their website from those places, you would likely get a service denial message. It's within Google's rights to offer/withdraw their services to any places they wish.

Having said that, maybe there was a better solution they could have implemented instead. Something like this should only be the very last choice on the list after exhausting all other options.

> You can't force a shop owner to sell his products to you if he doesn't want to.

The very first article of the Dutch constitution actually says that people have to be treated equally in equal cases. If you live in a country with a similar principle, do you know how this works with someone refusing to do business with you? If they sell to your peer, wouldn't they have to have a reason for not selling to you (i.e. to indicate that the case is unequal)?

A reason like creditworthiness or "looking like you won't pay the bill" may or may not be sufficient, I'm not questioning which reasons may be used. I'm just wondering if it's true that a shop can indeed refuse someone for no reason at all.

For those who are curious about the phrasing, source (in Dutch unfortunately): https://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0001840/2018-12-21

> The very first article of the Dutch constitution actually says that people have to be treated equally in equal cases.

Is that supposed to apply to the Dutch government? Or to everyone? Constitutions normally say what the government can and can't do; they don't normally directly tell ordinary citizens what they can and can't do.

I know discrimination is illegal in general (the government, companies, and individuals are all not allowed to discriminate), and I assume that comes from this article since the second sentence mentions religion and skin color specifically, so then I assume the first sentence of this article should also apply to everyone equally. But that's just conjecture, I'm not a lawyer.

Are you sure what is normative for Constitutions? I suppose in this case normally just means in most cases.

Not sure if even most. Just checked our constitution. While in most articles it doesn't order or forbid people to do specific things, there are dozens of rules and rights, which apply to .. I guess anyone in scope, many of which seem quite pointless if they only applied to the government.

> there are dozens of rules and rights

The US Constitution has a Bill of Rights, which applies to everyone in the sense that everyone has those rights, but which only applies to the government in the sense that the government is the one the Constitution says can't violate those rights. For example, the 1st Amendment says the government can't infringe freedom of speech. It does not say that everyone is guaranteed the same platform to speak from, nor does it require particular private entities to provide a speaking platform to anyone who asks for it.

Saying "people have to be treated equally in equal cases" sounds like the same kind of thing: if the US Constitution had such a provision, I would expect it to work the same as the 1st Amendment, i.e., requiring the government to treat people equally in equal cases, not requiring private entities to do so. But the Dutch Constitution might work differently, which is why I asked.

I'm not making any claim about what is "normative" in the sense of being somehow "legal" vs. "not legal" for Constitutions. I'm just curious what the actual application of the Dutch Constitution is.

In the US, our laws don't provide blanket protection, as it appears they do in the Netherlands. We do protect certain classes of people in some circumstances. Generally, these classes are race, religion, national origin, age, sex, and disability. There are a few others, depending on which state and what circumstances.

This leads us to (IMO) ridiculous legal cases where a baker refuses to serve a gay couple, or a toy store with Christian owners refuses to abide by some employment laws.

Right, if they sell to Dutch, they must not discriminate which Dutch.

You can’t force a foreign company to sell on Dutch soil _at all_ if they don’t want in, period.

I was not necessarily referring to international transactions, just curious about what the person wrote since I indeed also believe that to be true (also in the Netherlands) even though I separately learned of this part of the constitution that (now that I put two and two together) seems contradictory, at least within the Netherlands. Since there are quite a few Dutch people here, I figured someone might know.

> You can't force a shop owner to sell his products to you if he doesn't want to.

Yes you can, for example in cases of racial segregation.

But this refusal seems to be based on anti-trust regulation and it seems that Turkey won't be able to further penalize Google for this. People seem to be upset that a company can refuse to comply with the law and showing a sovereign government the finger.

But there is even a precedent for this: Google also refused to cooperate with Chinese search censorship and retreated from that market.

I don't see how this is a controversy. Turkey made a legal judgement, and Google decided the cost of compliance was too high so instead of thwarting the law and risk legal liability they retreated from the country.

The threat of Monopoly by Google in Turkey is gone - so congrats? You shouldn't force a company to provide you the opportunity to by their product (outside of certain circumstances regarding protected classes in the US).

This story is about Google not wanting to have a browser choice screen for the bundled Chrome application to give a choice of either Yandex or Google search???

It doesn't sound that's all there is here.

Perhaps a Yandex app store? Or perhaps this is about data residency?

But also the author here is arguing that Android is a state asset and the choice to restrict usage to a country is the job of the government.

Seems like a silly idea to me.

The giant still has legs of clay.

China still has an overwhelming edge in manufacturing, with Vietnam and Thailand being years away from reaching even 10% of its capacity.

They can easily legally mandate everybody to use "Huaweidroid" and make sure that chipmakers bake in their key fingerprints, so the firmware can't be changed outside of China.

With anything like that unfolding, there will simply be no way out of this for Google, unless they commit to a truly herculean task of starting own manufacturing somewhere else. But even in this case, they will have to commit to competition with now much cheaper "Huaweidroid" based phones

I'm generally pro competition but I feel like there's probably more to this story (just remembering how eBay also left Turkey). Aren't there some issues with how the data is supposed to be stored in Turkey (a place where many people including journalists are jailed and does not rank highly as a Democratic country) that would also make Google more likely to just up and leave or outright negotiate with the government over the laws rather than directly give in? Of course, I get the argument for how Google is too powerful with their system, I don't disagree, but I'm skeptical in general of trying to do fair business with Russia and Turkey given their track records

> just remembering how eBay also left Turkey

eBay didn't leave Turkey. They've bought http://www.gittigidiyor.com and continuing to operate.

They're still here, just under a different brand. They've bought their fiercest local competitor.

Sorry, you're absolutely right, I meant PayPal and obviously they haven't been the same company for quite some time! https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/31/paypal-to-halt-operations-...

Note that the regulation isn't about backdoors or data storage. Google is fined because of tying Search to Android, which is decided as anti-competitive by Russia and EU.

I think they pulled out to avoid paying the fine, but this might prove to be a monopoly exerting tactic as well. There is just no other explanation of pulling out of a market just because you have to un-tie your products now.

ebay did not left Turkey. They acquired a local ecommerce and they are operating over that one now. It wasn't able to compete then it just bought it.

As someone who is also pro competition, I don't mind if a peaceful actor like Google is able to compete in some sense with an oppressive warring state like Turkey.

Yeah, I'm being provocative. But think about it.

a peaceful actor like Google is able to compete in some sense with an oppressive warring state like Turkey.

What if it were more profitable for Google to side with the oppressive regime?

A trick question because we all already know what the answer is.

You're saying if Google is powerful, it might do something bad.

That's of course true, but it's also true of Turkey.

To me, having many actors with limited power is better than having a few with lot of power.

> The regulator had asked Google to change all its software distribution agreements to allow consumers to choose different search engines in its Android mobile operating system.

Hang on a second... why does the MS regulation to offer browser choice on first run apply to this already?

Turkey is not in the EU yet

Microsoft eventually caved, and put a "Browser Choice" popup in Windows. This was because the US was too big for MS to ignore. Here, we have a similar choice: Turkey wants Google to give users "Search Engine Choice", and because Turkey is relatively small of a market compared to Google's TAM, they decided they'd rather ignore than market than compromise, even though a compromise is probably the best outcome for users, for fair competition.

I think the author is not talking about what Google has a right to do or not do, nor do any moral obligation to play in which field. The problem being highlighted here is that size simply matters too much.

If ever there was a moment where a good open source phone OS as GUI toolkit could break onto the market, that time is now.

> Google said it was willing to ‘work with’ Turkey, but as a partner and not as a corporation working within a sovereign nation. It simply said it doesn’t like Turkey’s law, and so it will stop providing Android phones for an entire country. In other words, Google has a private sanctions regime against smaller countries.

The fact that Google even has the leverage to blackout an entire country like this--and that it's legally allowed to do so--is the best reason I've seen so far to break up Big Tech. They're playing with fire and undermining the U.S. diplomatic community by mixing public and private interests in a way that supersedes national policy. Both Android and Chrome need to be spun out--at this point they are basically public utilities.

> -and that it's legally allowed to do so--is the best reason I've seen so far to break up Big Tech.

Of course it is legal.. Nobody can tell a company who they HAVE to sell their product to.. But you want to break it up and what then exactly.. ?

> Both Android and Chrome need to be spun out--at this point they are basically public utilities

No, they're not.. And they're not a fundamental right either.

Nobody can tell a company who they HAVE to sell their product to.

Lots of court cases have forced merchants to sell to minorities to whom they would rather have not sold.

Could you share on some references to products and not services forced to be sold ?

Also policy based and not discriminatory based..

Chromium is already open source.

Technically so is Android but thats a whole other can of worms..

> Nobody can tell a company who they HAVE to sell their product to..

Of course the state can do that.

Turkey can if Google wants to do business in Turkey- if it isn't a legal business entity in Turkey, then no, not really.

Google has a legal business entity in Turkey.

For now- but if Turkey gets snippy back w/Google and tries to force the issue, that entity will simply cease to exist.

> Both Android and Chrome need to be spun out--at this point they are basically public utilities.

And then what: future development paid for by taxes, done by public servants who can't be fired? A House Committee on Chrome's WhatWG standards compliance?

Public servants normally can be fired by elected officials. Elected officials can be "fired" by the people, albeit only once every 4 years.

Perhaps spun into some sort of not-for-profit, like Firefox. It's a difficult problem. Most options seem bad, but the current situation is bad too.

> Public servants normally can be fired by elected officials.

No, they can't. There are extensive laws, rules, and regulations that prevent elected officials from firing government employees arbitrarily.

> Elected officials can be "fired" by the people, albeit only once every 4 years.

Every 2 years for the House of Representatives, every 6 years for Senators. But that almost never happens; the US Congress has incumbent re-election rates well above 90 percent. US Presidents are limited to two terms, so every so often we are forced to choose a new one.

Yea there's alot of emotional bickering that comes up when a company says "we won't do business with X".

>In other words, Google has a private sanctions regime against smaller countries.

With this stupid statement, my company must have a private sanctions regime agaisnt half the world

Your company probably isn't as important to the world as Google.

To the point, though: go read the Reuters article[0] linked from TFA. They're not pulling out of Turkey; they're refusing to license software to "business partners" making products for Turkey unless those partners lock search to Google.

Is your company really boycotting half the countries of the world because they have rules in place regarding your business practices?


> Your company probably isn't as important to the world as Google.

Google isn't that important to the world. China gets by just fine without it and not having access is mainly a mild inconvenience.

The distinction is that if your company boycotted another, is unlikely to ever be diplomatically or politically important; unless you work at Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, or Google

Or the boycott is part of a common industry practice like Disney/ Netflix distribution rules.

And this is exactly why we should not allow companies to become worldwide monopolies.

I tend to agree - this is similar to when cable companies and television networks have a contract dispute over licenses. Both parties claim the other is being unreasonable and they are the reason you can't watch "channel 257" anymore. In the case of countries in the middle east, there's an added element of obfuscation as there are essentially paid factions in the media willing to carry water for one side or the other. This was one of the many complications for example in unraveling the Khashoggi assassination. Add Russia/Yandex into the mix and it creates another mess that has to get decoded -- i.e. "Russia is the most vigilant party on anti-trust" -- implying that capitalism is alive and well in Russia, while in the US, anti-trust regulators are asleep while large so-called monopoly powers run amok. Yes, there is probably a story behind the story but who do you really trust to tell it to you these days?

TLDR: Turkey wanted to regulate Google's activities in the Turkish market, and so, Google decided to exit the Turkish market entirely.

I'm all in favor of vigorous anti-trust enforcement, and I think the Turkish regulators did the right thing. American/European regulators can probably take some pages out of their playbook. But it seems ridiculous to blame a company for choosing which markets it wants to do business in.

Ah, it's so nice to have my morning coffee with my daily fresh anti-Google story on the front page of Hacker News. Our lives just wouldn't be the same without it.

It almost feels like there is an active campaign against them at this point. There used to be a smear campaign against Google which was orchestrated by Facebook a while ago, around the time when Cambridge Analytica scandal was discovered, just to take the heat off themselves. It is difficult to guess who is behind this new campaign.

After the anti-Google story, I like to then move on to the story that paints any interaction with a corporation that is not completely anonymous as bona-fide evidence that we're a half-step away from a corporate-controlled surveillance state.

Yeah, I don't get it. FB is being openly evil with the political ads thing, but Google is the devil somehow? I suspect a smear campaign.

Two things can be different and still both be bad.

Are you claiming everyone on HN loves FB and hates Google? Because that is a pretty strong claim to make. Same goes for the tech press in general, it's not hard to find negative articles about FB and Google on the same website or from the same source.

If you type "matt stoller facebook" into Google Search (the devil's search engine) one of the top results on the first page is a criticism of Facebook... by Matt Stoller:


If you're going to suspect a smear campaign or conspiracy that's fine, but please at least make a basic effort to validate your theory before posting it on HN

OP was talking about what gets upvoted to the front page of HN, not necessarily what gets written by the source.

Try searching "Matt Stoller Facebook" and then "Matt Stoller Google" on HN.

The article was masterfully framed to make us feel outraged by Google’s exercise of its right to chose where it does business. When Google pulls out of a country, it loses a lot, and so does the country. This is a strong incentive for both parties to be reasonable. Forcing Google to obey every government in the world doesn’t seem fair; many countries have unreasonable or evil laws.

OTOH: forcing every country in the world to obey google is no better.

Google doesn't have armies and police forces. It can't "force" anyone to do anything, unlike governments.

Deciding not to provide its services is not a use of force from google.

Google has a lot of influence in what people see and read. In that way the definitely have a lot of power. "Force" doesn't have to be military, soft power[1] is very much able to change policy, culture and views of people, and google holds more than a lot nation states.


> Google has a lot of influence in what people see and read.

Google only has as much influence as individual users of their services give it.

And a lot of people give Google that power.

Which means Google holds a lot of soft power in the eyes of the government.

But the government can't "fix" that by regulating. Governments trying to regulate things to shield people from the consequences of their own bad decisions doesn't work.

Many believe internet access is a basic human right. [1]

Thus, many believe that pulling out of a country where your device is one of the sole affordable ways of reaching the internet is tantamount to a human rights violation.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Internet_access

Going from "access to internet" to "selling Android phones" is a pretty big leap.

in many places it really isn't

Then why not force apple to start selling iPhones for dirt cheap if owning a cellphone is a human right? Surely they are even more of a violator of human rights because their phones are so prohibitively expensive and they operate in fewer markets than Google?

Even accepting your ridiculous premises, none of this makes sense.

There are many alternatives to every service Google offers, even though it might not be as good as Google's offering.

I stand with Google in this case. What if google goes down tomorrow? Is your human rights violated?

The deterioration of the term "human right" really makes me sad for the future.

A human right is something to kill and die for. If someone breaks into your home, you ought to defend yourself. If a government is censoring you, you are justified in civil war to defend your rights.

But now "human rights" are political speech for "something I want". I want free housing and medical care and internet access, so those things must be human rights.

And to be clear, those are great things. Being able to provide medical care to people is wonderful. But that does not make it a human right.

What is your basis for the assertion that medical care and housing are not human rights, when you just implied you should be able to kill someone who breaks into your home?

What precisely is the line here? You have the right to defend a home if you have one, but you don't have a right to have it?

Is food a human right, but not housing or medical care? Do you also believe food is not a human right?

If food is a human right (i'm going to assume favorably that you agree with me that it is), what distinguishes food - essential for survival - from medical care, which is also frequently essential for survival in modern culture?

Is it okay to deprive children of - for example - necessary vaccines and allow them to catch, spread and die from preventable diseases, because some children may survive? Near-starvation may also kill some children but not all, so is that OK?

Alternately, if you believe neither food or medicine or housing are human rights - okay? - what makes free speech a human right when those aren't, specifically? How can you exercise your free speech, exactly, if someone takes away your food as punishment for speech they dislike or if they confiscate your home along with the property you use to communicate?

Your definition of human right here is confusing and circular. Almost anything can be worth killing for depending on who you ask, otherwise you wouldn't have people getting murdered by thieves or scorned lovers. What makes it worth killing for or dying for? What makes it justified or not justified?

Obviously there are ways to establish a logical framework here but your post makes it hard to understand what framework you're operating on.

I think my wording was unclear. Human rights are categorically worth killing and dying for, but that's not how I would define them.

I believe in natural rights. Human rights must be things that are natural and innate to humans. This is a very Google-able thing, and there has been a lot of interesting philosophy on the topic, but I will try and summarize here.

My core belief is that humans are sovereign over themselves. My body is my own. This is where all rights flow from. If I build or buy a house, and you break in, you are violating my sovernty over myself and my property.

On the other hand, if I force you to build me a house, I am violating your sovernty. Therefore it cannot be my right to have free housing , because doing so would violate your rights to not be a slave. If we mutually agree on terms and I pay you to build me a house, that's wonderful. But saying I have a right to make you build me a house is tantamount to slavery.

Natural rights almost always boil down to force. It is wrong for me to force you to do anything, even if that thing is "good" such as providing me with free food or internet. You and I are both autonomous adults and we can either come to mutually beneficial terms or not do business at all.

> How can you exercise your free speech, exactly, if someone takes away your food as punishment for speech they dislike or if they confiscate your home along with the property you use to communicate?

If someone stole your food or your house, that would be a violation of your rights. Again, it comes down to the use of aggression and force. Are you forcing your local grocer to give you food that he doesn't want to give you? That's theft, plain and simple.

And I feel I need to reiterate: it's perfectly fine if you think the government should provide taxpayer funded medicine, housing, food, internet, etc. But just because you think something is good to have does not make it a right. It's the redefinition and watering down of the idea of human rights that upsets me.

Many people believe abortion is murder. That doesn’t make it so.

"Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents."


Well that case is just semantics dispute on the definition of "murder" and "human".

It is. Google hasn’t killed anyone so far that disagrees with them. Plenty of governments does.

No, it’s not. We didn’t give Microsoft a free pass when they did monopolistic moves. Google should not be treated differently.

You're moving the goalposts. The comment above yours says (and quite rightly) that Google does not have the power of a government and shouldn't be considered as such. And your response is "but Microsoft!".

Thanks for your answer. Sorry, it was not intentional. I'll try to explain myself better.

In today's world, some of the corporations size and influence allows them to behave the way the want and, I see this as problematic.

Google may not be killing anyone who disagrees with them and, they can freely decide where to conduct business. I have no problem with these points.

However, I see Google's behavior as problematic. Google's response dşffers from country to country. They have a similar problem in EU (more specifically European Economic Area) and, they have implemented a selection screen similar to Microsoft's browser & search engine selection screen. Turkey might not be in EU but, as a country it has every right to level the playing field for the companies (in this case Yandex and Google) in order to increase the competition.

The but Microsoft! response is coming from the change of tone in response to this issue. When Microsoft became the monopoly and pushed Sun Microsystems and other browsers around, the unanimous vote was to divide or somewhat stop them. When Google does a similar thing, response changes with respect to country which Google has a dispute. I find this wrong.

P.S.: I'm a bit tired and English is not my native language. If I messed the writing, please point it out. I'll try to clarify.

Is this a reference to something? What does it mean for a country to obey google?

Google also operate in USA. USA has more people in prison than Turkey has. Recently journalist Max Blumenthal was jailed on false charges.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21824570 and marked it off-topic.

> Google also operate in USA.

They're based there, in case you didn't notice.

> USA has more people in prison than Turkey has.

And is substantially larger, and tends to not lock up everybody that might be against dear leader. For now.

> Recently journalist Max Blumenthal was jailed on false charges.

Definitely not a very good moment in the history of the USA but there are plenty of worse examples and besides the case was dropped.

You really can not compare Turkey and the United States in this way.

> > USA has more people in prison than Turkey has.

> And is substantially larger, and tends to not lock up everybody that might be against dear leader. For now.

Just for the record, the incarceration rate is much higher in USA than in Turkey.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/uk/06/prisons/html/nn2... lists 737 vs. 97 per 100k population (though I can't find a date there), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarcera... says 655 vs. 288.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/300986/incarceration-rat... has data from 2019 and says 655 vs. 318. Still more than twice as high in the USA than in Turkey.

Yes, the United States has a problem and it is well documented. But that does not at all begin to tell the whole story about why people are locked up.

In the United States it is large numbers of people that got caught up in the so-called war-on-drugs, in Turkey it is because Erdogan has used the failed coup (if there even was one) as a pretext to lock up just about everybody who he felt might be a threat to his regime.

It seems Nixon's and Erdogan's motivations were similar.

The war on drugs was created by the Nixon regime as a way to neutralize threatening political movements like Black Power and the Hippie Peace movement.

> The war on drugs was created by the Nixon regime as a way to neutralize threatening political movements like Black Power and the Hippie Peace movement.

This seems like one of those Illuminati/Knights Templar conspiracy theories. I don't buy it. I'm imagining Nixon's cabinet in a super secret meeting:

Nixon: "Those hippies and negroes. They are growing too powerful. Soon, democrats will dominate every level of government"

Secretary of State: "But what can we do?"

Nixon: smirks and peers over reading glasses directly at the camera

Nixon: "We hit them where it hurts. Tell me, what does the hippy and the negro have in common?"

Secretary of Agriculture: "High rates of homelessness?"

Nixon: "No, the Reefer. We can't outright declare war on US citizens. But we can attack the thing they hold most dear and get the religious right to love us for it."

Secretary of Defense: "Mother of God... a war... on drugs"

Nixon: "Precisely. The hippy and negro cannot resist the draw of the Reefer. Thus, we simply declare war on the Reefer. We can lock them up in prisons where they will harmlessly live out their days, unable to empower the democratic party."

Well, that's not too far off from what probably happened. According to former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman:

"You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities," Ehrlichman said. "We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/23/politics/john-ehrlichman-...

According to Harper's magazine, which conveniently published that after his death. From the same article:

>Ehrlichman died in 1999, but his five children in questioned the veracity of the account.

>"We never saw or heard anything from our dad, John Ehrlichman, that was derogatory about any person of color," wrote Peter Ehrlichman, Tom Ehrlichman, Jan Ehrlichman, Michael Ehrlichman and Jody E. Pineda in a statement provided to CNN.

>Ehrlichman's comments did not surface until now after Baum remembered them while going back through old notes for the Harper's story.

>Baum interviewed Ehrlichman and others for his 1996 book "Smoke and Mirrors," but said he left out the Ehrlichman comment from the book because it did not fit the narrative style focused on putting the readers in the middle of the backroom discussions themselves, without input from the author.

How convenient. He was sitting on a massive admission because it "didn't fit the style".

It seems more "massive" to our modern eyes. Back then it wouldn't have been remarkable, because the Drug War marketing was widely believed. (Baum's book itself was at the vanguard of changing public opinion.) Also, bland impersonal racism was largely tolerated in the mid-90s.

Besides, that statement from some of his children seems surprisingly specific. Nothing about Nixon's policies or Ehrlichman's role in them required Ehrlichman to be derogatory to anyone. Not that it would have been a surprise: he was born in 1925! Lots of white Americans born in that year were all too happy both to discriminate in their private lives and to enact discriminatory policies in public. Ehrlichman's kids must not have been such great fans of his anyway. At the time of the interview, he lived in Atlanta and they were all in the Pacific timezone. Reading the Harper's article, I have more sympathy for him than for them. Let the old man say his piece.

Ummm... doesn't everyone know about Ehrlichman's comments by now? You might need some remedial reading:


Lordy, I hope there are tapes. To quote a particular Individual(-1). But there is more than a grain of truth to this.

Your satirically imagined quotes are comically similar to the actual quotes:

Nixon: "You see, homosexuality, dope, immorality in general. These are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff, they're trying to destroy us"

You might want to read up on some history:


The US is larger than Turkey, but that's irrelevant to the argument; the US locks up a larger percentage of its population than practically any other country on Earth. The US has more people in prison than China, which has 4 times the population.

I'm not denying there's a lot wrong in Turkey, but the US isn't all freedom and democracy either.

Only China knows how many people are in prison/education.

Same as business revenue, which is mostly fake for the outside world.

Are you counting re-education camps and capital punishments? Pretty sure China will surpass most of the rest combined.

Quite possibly. But still, I don't think "not as bad as China" is a sufficiently high bar for what was once supposed to be the greatest democracy in the world and a champion for freedom.

We Americans hate the autocrític. Good argument

>And is substantially larger

And it still has the world's highest incarceration rate. I am not saying it "the same" but using size of the country is a non argument here.

Why not? Turkey survived a coup. We can critique the governments handling all day but can we at least all agree that when a democracy barely survives a coup it ought to institute policies to solidify the rule of law and endurance of its institutions?

Your premise of democracy is wrong. Turkey is an authoritarian dictatorship at this point.

...and the US is shockingly close to being one.

How? Genuine question. Is it because Trump? Because while Trump and many of his supporters may be authoritarian, he was still duly elected, and if he had lost, Hillary would be President. In a dictatorship, Obama would have chosen his successor (generally).

Let's wait for the next election before we call this one.

Turkey did not survive a coup, Erdogan survived a "coup"

A coup doesn't happen with democracies/countries, it's dictatorships that "survive" coups.

Technically, a coup is just a violent overthrow of the government. That can happen with democracies; it just generally doesn’t because the people can just vote out the current president if they don’t like him/her.

A coup that many think was orchestrated by Erdogan so he could clean house.

That there even was a coup is subject to debate.

It's amusing how for many things you "cannot compare X and US in this way" for whatever reason. Seems that the US is beyond any comparison.

Go to this page, sort by the number of incarcerations per 100,000 population and enjoy the interesting picture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarcera...

incarceration because war of drugs is fundamentally different from incarceration because I don't like my dear leader.

"One of Richard Nixon's top advisers and a key figure in the Watergate scandal said the war on drugs was created as a political tool to fight blacks and hippies" [1]

It's not that different.

1: https://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/23/politics/john-ehrlichman-...

It goes even further. By having a large (Democrat-leaning) non-white population jailed up, it reduces potential Democrat voters - in some states for life even after incarceration. The only western democracy who does that.


This has always disgusted me. Civic duty is a foundation of representative democracy and we strip that right from former felons while talking about reintegration with society with the other side of our mouth.

I was addressing the number of people in prisons specifically, not the reasons for them being there. Being a larger country and thus having more prisoners says nothing about the incarceration rate.

> Recently journalist Max Blumenthal was jailed on false charges.

And released when the accusers were found the be lying. How does this incident put the US in the same league as Turkey?

Let's list some stuff that doesn't look good.

Guantanamo - detention and physiological torture without trial. Hounding of whistler blowers of illegal activity - Snowdon, Manning, Assange etc.

Destabilizing countries around the world - many with democratically elected governments. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_r...)

Now, of course, this is largely directed at other countries citizens rather than US citizens - so that makes it ok.....

In terms of internal US politics - how do you explain George W Bush as president if the US is a meritocracy and not a oligarchy?

Let's be clear - I'd prefer to live in the US over turkey, but it's not all rosy.

The vast majority (at least 99.9%) of the documents that Snowden, Manning, and Assange leaked contained no illegal activity. No judge would classify them as whistlebowers.

OK you've outed yourself here. It is ridiculous to claim that Snowden and Manning are not whistleblowers. You're probably down with redefining "whistleblower" to only include made-up imaginary people like the supposed "CIA agent" who was so secretly stationed in the White House that she overheard multiple private two-person conversations.

> It is ridiculous to claim that Snowden and Manning are not whistleblowers.

I just explained why they aren't. Are you going to explain why you think they are or just include me in your wild conspiracy theories?

Why no judge could class them that way (and its reasonable to doubt that). Still, as a nation we object to what they uncovered, and many are glad to learn of the massive overreach of authority these organizations are daily perpetrating.

Whatever your thoughts on what the leakers uncovered in the less than 0.1% of documents that weren't simply legal things that the organizations were tasked to do, my point is that they would never be classified as whistlebowers. This feeds into the larger point that you cannot compare the US to Turkey for its treatment of indiscriminate leakers of state secrets vs. Turkey's much worse treatment of people who simply disagree with a dictator and expect anybody to take you seriously.

Unrelated to the topic of discussion, what massive overreach do you think these organizations are daily perpetrating?

Hmm, so he published originally to Greenwald about 9-10 k docs - so you are saying about 9-10 docs contained illegal stuff?

Or are you counting all the documents he downloaded and looked at but didn't publish??? Maybe you are including every book he ever read as well?

Remember the leak as a whole was essentially that the US ( and it's allies ) were hoovering everything up it could - phone and data, via any means necessary - often illegal means, just in case it was useful, with no respect for either national or international law.

Whether you think it was necessary or not, common knowledge or not - it was illegal at the time and people like the director of national intelligence lied directly to congress about it happening.

Yep it's not as bad a Turkey or North Korea - but that doesn't make it ok...

> Remember the leak as a whole was essentially that the US ( and it's allies ) were hoovering everything up it could - phone and data, via any means necessary - often illegal means, just in case it was useful, with no respect for either national or international law.

No international law covers state data collection, and none of the leaks said the US hoovered up everything it could. The only illegal US program in the leaks was phone metadata collection. It seems you are remembering documents that don't exist.

> so you are saying about 9-10 docs contained illegal stuff?

I said fewer.

The accusers being paid employees of CIA seeking to overturn the results of democratic elections in another sovereign nation puts the episode a bit closer to that league.


Thank you. It’s insane how people put zero effort into looking at the surrounding context before passing such huge judgements.

Google should be broken up like the Bell system was in the 80s.

Why ?

Maybe some proper regulation written by people who know what they're talking about would be a better start no ?

The nuclear option of : 'Oh break them up, they're out of control' is such a fallacy.

Maybe if lawmakers were clued in on what large companies like Facebook, Google actually did, they might just set better rules.

Fair point, but, I think we all can agree "proper regulation written by people who know what they're talking about" is extremely unlikely to happen.

Google cannot be broken up. It needs to be torn down on short (~14 days) notice.

Let's do Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Comcast and many others too. Unless you're just on the Google hater bandwagon.

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