Fun fact 2: the AGs are being advised by a former News Corp (read: WSJ) lawyer who also advises other google competitors (https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/10/08/texas-a...)
Fun fact 3: AGs are elected so they seek publicity, they are also corrupt: the one in Mississippi was issuing subpoenas to Google on behalf of the entertainment industry (https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141217/06353329462/attor...)
We've got nothing against Google  but we've sure got something against abuse of HN—it boils our blood. Since your comment was the top post on the top thread, I think it's fair to leave this up so everyone can see what you've been doing.
It feels like I spend half my life telling HN users not to make insinuations about astroturfing and shilling without evidence . The other side is that we have a contract with the community: when we do find evidence, we crack down hard.
 In case anyone is worried about bias, here's an example of moderation going the opposite way: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20890092. And here's one that involved a different company: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11905831.
The Googlers who participate on HN are overwhelmingly honest and are some of the best community members that HN has. They're 100% welcome here, and if I were them I'd feel even madder about this than we do.
This ban seems unfair, and if it is rooted in an anti-astroturfing policy, then that policy appears way too aggressive - no one wants HN to be a marketing site for mega-corps, but passionately defending one's favorite company shouldn't result in a ban. Also, the moderators have all the power, and accused none. While moderating is likely arduous and maybe even moribund, being a fanboy/AstroTurf-er especially one not behaving badly, isn't worthy of silencing/banning (that's my opinion).
The consumers of HN content have a healthy skepticism towards polarizing opinions, and as with all social media, have their guard up on what can be blindly trusted. This ban assumes your average HN-er cannot tell a fanboy apart from a neutral third party - which is not the case. Let opinions be, let the fanboys talk freely (as long as they're not impolite), and trust the HN audience to use their better judgement in drawing any conclusions. I don't think anyone assumes the top comment on any topic to be an endorsement by YC/HN, or it's users.
You don't have to look far through https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturf&sort=byDat... to see how many hours I've spent defending users accused of astroturfing and telling other users that they can't sling such accusations without evidence. That problem is actually far more serious than this one, in its corrosive effects. But the flip side is that it does occasionally happen that the evidence is so unequivocal that public banning is called for, and this is one of those cases.
Let people have multiple accounts for privacy if they want, but disallow multiple posts/comments/votes from the same person.
To pick a couple of famous names, I doubt that Alan Kay or Peter Norvig would have bothered with HN if we'd placed up-front demands on them. Countless experts have shown up here over the years to create accounts and share firsthand about what they know. Here's a recent example that sticks in my mind: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22007115. It's particularly common for project creators or article authors to show up and comment on their work. We don't want to do anything to make that less likely.
HN is fortunate in that we're not under pressure to monetize users, squeeze more engagement out of them, or optimize them in any way. The factors that drive companies into corralling their users and eking information out of them don't apply here. The only thing we need to do is have HN be interesting. An open community, assuming it can be persuaded not to destroy itself, is more likely to be interesting.
Also, I can get an SMS over VIOP for cheap for a limited number of days. If I were an attacker the email/phone verification does nothing to stop me.
What's typical to see on Bookface are founders asking and answering questions about specific challenges, people launching their startups (that part is a bit overlappy with HN, but the discussions are smaller and I would say narrower), people looking to hire or get hired, people asking for intros, posts about apartments and offices for rent, announcements of events...that kind of thing.
The fact that your comment's grandparent, of all comments, is the top one makes me doubt that optimistic outlook.
The former would constitute a moderator bias against Google (examples of moderation going the opposite way don't change anything about this particular instance), while the latter would be actual abuse. Although seems like creating multiple accounts doesn't lead to an automatic ban in every single instance, meaning latter is unlikely to be the case here.
Astroturfing would imply that he has a business motive while trying to conceal it as a grassroots comment. Purely from the content of his comment it doesn't seem like that's the case.
You can't judge this by a single comment, since the whole point of this abuse is to make posts that are indistinguishable from grassroots comments, while advancing an agenda. To see the agenda you have to look at patterns across comments. You can begin to see that at https://news.ycombinator.com/posts?id=notamanager, but to really see it you have to look across multiple accounts.
> examples of moderation going the opposite way don't change anything about this particular instance
It changes the general conclusion some readers might otherwise jump to or fear. A single prominent case of moderation is enough to get a lot of sincere users worried about bias, and a counterexample or two is often enough to soothe those worries. I don't want any sincere Googlers on HN (which is basically all of the Googlers on HN) to feel like they're unwelcome or need to change their participation in the site. Anyone who likes both Google and HN should be mad that someone would tarnish the one by poisoning the other.
> Astroturfing would imply that he has a business motive
We can't read motive directly. We can only look at behavior patterns. I look at it as a duck-typing thing: if an account walks and quacks like a corporate propagandist, the name fits, regardless of who they work for or what their job title is.
Edit: unfortunately, internet users are far too quick to perceive other users this way, so the vast majority of the time we have to tell them that the name does not fit—to such an extent that this is in the site guidelines (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html) and perhaps the worst issue we face as moderators (https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturf&sort=byDat...) But still, sometimes it does fit, and dealing with such cases unequivocally is what enables us to make the contrary argument the rest of the time.
> This makes it seem like you're banning him for supporting his company with a valid argument
I'm not sure why it seems that way to you, but I appreciate your perspective and would be happy to hear more. I don't mean to imply that this is an easy issue. It's complex, and slippery to pin down in general. If you put the question as "is it a problem if someone is simply posting valid arguments in favor of their point of view?" it feels like the answer should be no. If you put it as "is it a problem if a specialist shows up with prepared talking points to influence any thread related to their agenda?", it feels like the answer should be yes. But those two things are almost the same, like a Russell conjugation. So how can we draw any line?
The best answer that I know is to look at all the evidence we have (some public, some not) and ask whether the account's behavior is consistent with the value of this site, which is intellectual curiosity. Single-purpose accounts tend not to be, so we don't allow those in general, especially when the single purpose is to advance the interests of some entity. When that pattern occurs repeatedly across multiple accounts, it fits the "does it walk like a duck" test for astroturfing, even if we don't know things like "is it paid" or "who they work for". Those questions aren't usually knowable and aren't intrinsically important. What matters is behavior on the site.
I just wanted to point out how from an outsider perspective it looks like a bias, especially given that HN always seems to have an overwhelming amount of anti-Google content compared to other media sources (not that Google shouldn't be scrutinized - it should be).
I know it feels that way, but nearly always when people say this, it indicates how they feel on a topic (e.g. that in this case you feel pro-Google). People with the opposite feeling are guaranteed to have the opposite perception. In both cases it's a function of (a) the HN dataset is large and has a wide distribution, therefore (b) a lot of content appears here that strikes your feelings negatively, but (c) we remember those instances much more strongly, so (d) they accrue into an overall impression of the site.
I say 'you' but I don't mean you personally. We're all like this. Unfortunately it leads to a community in which people on all sides of every charged issue end up feeling like the community is hostile to them. I don't really know what to do about that other than post about it a lot.
Edit: the same bias affects how people feel about the mods, again in proportion to how intensely they feel about a topic.
At the end, people will have to develop the critical thinking skills required to reason about the way things feel to them.
With an account that exclusively posts in support of said company? While not disclosing that he is getting paid by said company (even if not directly for the posts) ? Isn't that outright illegal in some places?
It goes back many years before that.
As a person who is now on my 50th HN account, I find the moderation policies here capricious and arbitrary.
Re your accounts, I'm not sure what has felt capricious and arbitrary to you, but from my perspective it's simply a matter of following the site guidelines and using HN in the intended spirit. We discussed that at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22173082 (but also https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22359424). If there's some aspect of moderation that still isn't transparent to you (or anyone!) I'm happy to do my best to explain, and even happier to correct any mistakes. But it would be better to send those to email@example.com.
What you're talking about, as best as I can tell, is called "fanboyism" -- individual devotion characterized by unusually strong vocality and blindness to contradictory evidence.
Fanboys are extremely common in tech, but usually associated with companies that make products with particularly elegant design (Apple, Tesla) or with a strong sociopolitical component to their identity.
More importantly, it's a distinction without a difference in cases like this. When someone is using dozens of accounts to post corporate propaganda to HN over many years, they're abusing the site and we ban them.
Further, I have been posting on /. and other forums since the 90's and have never been banned.
If you are on your 51st account here, perhaps the problem is you and not with the people running the show.
My first HN account name was my full real name. I have a three-digit slashdot user number and that account also uses my real full name. I believe in communities online.
The HN guidelines haven't changed significantly in a long time, and dang and sctb miss a lot because HN is huge and nobody can read every comment, but they do a pretty good job when they step in. If you're on your 50th account, perhaps you should see if you can modify your posting to stay afloat of the rules. (On your 51st account, presumably, since you just told one of the moderators you're an account evading a ban.) And if you have questions or concerns about moderation, or feel you were unfairly impacted, there's a contact email in the footer and they're actually really good dudes you can talk to.
At some point I'd just conclude they don't want me there and walk away.
It's super, and I mean super, fucked up that you turn around and accused the the other side of corruption with literally no evidence that it is true.
It's beyond super fucked up that HN thinks OPs answer adds any actual insight to this conversation, as opposed to utterly unsupported insinuations.
OP could be right, but we should all be doing better here, from the WSJ to the people upvoting this garbage.
That's the wider context.
As for background if state AGs have ulterior motives then so does the EU many folds.
Here is a NYT article about how state AGs get used by company lawyers to go after competitors with money exchanging hands (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/19/us/politics/lawyers-creat...)
Here is the one about the Mississippi AG used by the movie industry to go after google (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/technology/google-attorne...)
The WSJ is a not an uninterested party in this case, and this is but one example of them misquoting and spinning reports to attack google (https://searchengineland.com/misquoted-and-misunderstood-why...)
Could you please clarify if you mean the donors, the voters, or both?
This is technically true but misleading, as it's generally assumed that "the voters" means the >99% of the electorate who are not rich enough to make individual demands of candidates in return for campaign contributions. (And "donors" mostly means corporations, which thankfully do not get to vote, although there are a few people (ie, technically voters) who are rich enough personally to bribe candidates.)
While I appreciate your enthusiasm, I think it is premature to assume that the executive branch of federal government is somehow behind state Attorney Generals' fishing expeditions.
A situation where one side is corrupt or doing things wrong does not mean the other side is right or not corrupt. Both sides are capable of doing wrong and corrupt things.
> Criminal defendants, not civil.
Everyone hates presumption of innocence when they are on the plaintiff/accuser's side. But strangely enough, everyone clings to it when they're on the defendant/accused's side. It's almost like it's a universal principle!
Make no mistake. Anyone who wants to erode presumption of innocence and due process is for the power of governments and money over the individual, unwittingly or not. (Strangely enough, almost everyone who tries such erosion does it in the same way, no matter if they're in a totalitarian state or in a democracy; it's all done in the name of "justice.")
Businesses are entities and should be treated significantly different since as abstract/artificial human constructs, they have no real notion of life, death, hardship, hunger, disease, etc. and are able to act accordingly based on these relaxed constraints whereas humans do need to deal with these aspects.
Any notion of these human concerns reflected in a business exist only due to businesses being composed of and controlled by humans. Business decisions don't have to and often don't reflect regular human concerns. That relaxed constraint allows them certain competitive advantages over humans.
Those competitive advantages are then exploited purely as a proxy for some arbitrarily privileged humans, allowing them to push their personal desires on the world with losses minimally effecting their primary human concerns.
That common proxy relationship use needs to have more accountability that leads back to the humans playing the business puppets, otherwise, the punishments are not nearly equivalent in impact on life of a business entity vs an individual.
People don't realize that. A corporation is a standalone entity. And yes, there is nothing inconsistent about a business being held to a more strict standard of disclosure than an individual. I.e. You can plead the Fifth. A Corporation cannot. When a search warrant is issued for all documents of/relating to/pertaining to X created or transacted between dates Y and Z, you don't get to withhold them because it might seem to incriminate the company. That's the price of the corporate superpower of the corporation being able to die/fold/be punished and everyone else being able to go home unharmed except for needing to find a new job; possibly at a new company already established, funded and poised to buy out the assets of the old corporation that's being liquidated.
Corporations are not people in the Constitutional sense. You can't take the HOV lane just because you are carrying the Articles of Incorporation for your company. Check with a lawyer by all means, I'm not one, but I've read enough case law and other stuff to feel confident I've at least got this part right.
Larry and Sergei could have founded Google as an unlimited liability partnership, but they preferred to incorporate. So Google has to follow the rules that come with incorporation.
Incorporation was a free choice. There was an alternative. Nobody's rights are being infringed.
While it's very rare that a company is on trial it does happen. Partially in rather prominent cases
There is such a thing as a corporate death penalty.
I'll try to adhere to it when quoting in the future.
It's just that I always thought that courier font looks so cool for quoting.
But at the end of the day it should be legible, without scrolling around.
Newspapers are businesses and they compete with Google. You should scrutinize their motives and the motives of those so called "intelligent people" you mention.
This may be an example of corruption in an Attorney General's (AG) office, it does not prove that all AG's are corrupt because they are elected (of which, public relations
is a requirement).
counter example: Letitia James
One may not agree with her actions, however, corruption it is not.
Assuming your allegation is true, an AG was serving subpoenas on behalf of Google and that makes all AGs corrupt...then it goes without saying that if just one Googler has ever engaged in one bad act or act of corruption, then all Googlers are bad or corrupt.
I am not sure that is the standard you want to apply.
>AGs are elected so they seek publicity
Well nothing would gain an AG more publicity than deviating from the other AGs and exposing this case as having no merit and simply a collusion of 49 State AGs in an attempt to collectively seek publicity for their reelections. Of course Google's army of lawyers could expose the same and win Google's attorney's fees from the State, which would be negative publicity...so its pretty far fetched what you allege without any evidence.
Of course if you really cared or wanted to know if Google engages in anti-competitive practices try to Google a flight from your location to another city anywhere on the Earth and tell me what pops up first? Is it an organic result? Is it an paid ad? Or is it another Alphabet product embedded into the top of the results driving all internet traffic looking for flights to their self owned product? This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the reality of Alphabet unfairly using Google's market dominance in an anti-competitive way.
The solution is clear, at minimum Alphabet should not be able to buy/bid up Google AdWords, but the better solution would be Alphabet products/services should not be able to appear in Google results at all (or at least on page 1). The beauty of this solution, if/when Google complains that the internet won't be able to search/find their products, Alphabet can be reminded that of course the internet can find their products, through competitor search engines which are only 1 click away.
Re: the other points... Are you implying that current trust-related investigations and such are mostly bogus?
Google defends itself against trustbusting constantly: Android, adwords... the platform businesses. It has lost cases & earned record-breaking fines. €5bn is just not a dealbreaker for Google.
They expect these occasionally because Google's main MO is prone to it, at their scale. Their platform businesses are exactly the "monopolies" Peter Thiel described as the goal of modern business. The whole point of antitrust is to dampen monopolies. It shouldn't be surprising they collide.
I don't really understand the counterargument to pursuing much more decisive antitrust legislation & control, myself. It seems like a clear win.
I think it means they have some documents they don't want to give up. What that means I don't really know, it could mean they have something to hide, but then again it could be they just want to make things difficult for the people they consider their opponents - as I would.
I might also add incompetent and narcissist.
Fun Fact 4: Everyone, that is everyone which includes Google has due process rights which I feel should be exercised by everyone. Next what ?
> "Man charged with murder resists punishment by pleading non guilty in court".
It's not going to get better any time soon. Karma I guess.
No, there is no resonance between those two things.
Google isn't giving up documents, that's what the headline says, and it's perfectly fair.
Your other 'fun facts' are equally disputable.
>Throwaway accounts are ok for sensitive information, but please don't create accounts routinely. HN is a community—users should have an identity that others can relate to.
This user isn't revealing sensitive information, and it seems like they are trying to hide a conflict of interest.
- THE name is green for a reason.
- OP can declare in a public domain that he has no conflict of interest by any direct or indirect means.
As a long time member of this community, it is a simple and just request. You may choose to diverge the attention elsewhere for your own motives or beliefs.
OP: please declare that you are free from any conflict of interest.
This would be true of any company. It would even be true for many individuals.
This article is nothing more than a bulletin updating us on the latest developments in the case, painted up to look like more than it is.
It's called a "process" article. Some small thing happens in the process of a larger event, and it's updated. It helps the publication later if research has to be done into what happened and what the coverage was. It also indicates to its avid readers that it's following the event long-term and "on" whatever happens.
It's just normal journalism. But since the majority of people on HN consume their news in bits and bites here and there, and random headlines, they don't understand the benefit.
painted up to look like more than it is.
That's more of a matter of opinion than of fact. Sometimes extra background is added to a process story for the benefit of people coming in for the first time, or who will only read a few reports about an event over a period of months or years.
/Was a journalist for 20 years in a previous life.
While the title is technically true, my initial interpretation was that Google was refusing to comply with a demand which they were legally obligated to meet. Turns out it was a request which they were well within their legal rights to deny.
Sure, this is my opinion, but I'd definitely consider that to be a misleading title. This article is probably only on the HN front page because it is misleading.
"Google denies request to provide documents in investigation of anticompetitive practices" is a better title.
What do you do in your current life?
In recent years, since journalists are motivated by clicks/eyeballs, and such things are most easily garnered by outrage, such emotional bias in reporting has sadly become the norm.
The side effect being everything is us vs them nowadays.
Is anyone surprised that they'd push back on requests for their own data, especially when it's run by state AGs (i.e. politically motivated) and involves turning trade secrets directly over to competitors?
> “To date, Texas has requested, and we have provided, over 100,000 pages of information,” the spokeswoman said. “But we’re also concerned with the irregular way this investigation is proceeding, including unusual arrangements with advisers who work with our competitors and vocal complainants."
Isn't that kind of to be expected in an investigation into anti-competitive practices though?
Better title/article. https://www.forbes.com/sites/beasleydavid/2020/02/21/report-...
> Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the investigation by 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, said the company’s actions suggest it is withholding information that could be damaging.
> “Every indication right now is they don’t believe that they’re clean because they don’t act in any way like they are,” Mr. Paxton said in an interview.
There are lots of responses from Google's side of the aisle about why they think they are in the right, but this is just a battle of he-said she-said until they go to court to fight it out.
(I'm a googler, opinions are my own)
There can be a an actual reason that Google is not giving up documents immediately, which is brought up. I don't expect any company/person to give up everything willingly to 3rd parties.
This is going to be interesting to watch, as the 'States might successfully argue that to properly understand if anticompetitive behavior took place, they need to open up the hood to the car, so to speak, and take a look at what's underneath...
The problem is that I don't use Google Search, but Google Search still impacts me in a way I can't control. Even if I use DuckDuckGo, my business lives or dies on what Google Search ranks it. Google is the ultimate kingmaker. They decide what businesses survive or die.
I think any big tech company falls into this. And unlike google search, there is no alternative for Microsoft windows. You can change your search engine and keep using a new one without any trouble or training. Off course, you can say that the others are not good enough, but companies don't get dismantled because competitors are not good enough. Switching from MS windows is alas, not possible. The main thing is the large number of applications available for it and not for other platforms, and also needs significantly more training than switching away from Google search.
The issue isn't market share alone - it's whether or not the company leverages that in an anti-competitive way. Ex: installing Microsoft Office on a Mac doesn't uninstall Numbers or Keynote off your machine. Or installing the Outlook app on Android doesn't ask you to switch your default email client every time you open the app. However, try using Google Search in Edge or Safari and you'll see a bunch of ads and tool tips pushing the user to install Chrome. Or see the reported cases of Edge users not being able to play on Google Stadia unless they switch to Chrome.
> And unlike google search, there is no alternative for Microsoft windows.
Google Docs / Apple iWork Suite (Numbers, Pages, Keynote, etc.) would disagree.
None of these are replacements for Windows, the Operation system, which is what I claimed.
> it's whether or not the company leverages that in an anti-competitive way
Yeah, so a company silently changing your search engine in a competitor's browser on update of unrelated software is engaging in the worst kind of uncompetitive behaviour, which is what Microsoft is doing.
Using google search doesn't install Chrome magically on your machine. It is an ad, and like any other company, Google is allowed to run ads.
Also, search for Google chrome on bing, and you would see a giant popup telling you to download Edge.
Honestly, I can't recall one bad thing that Google does, that Microsoft doesn't do worse. Fortunately, Microsoft could never have a foothold in the online advertising market, so they don't have any use of as much user data so far, although they do collect all sorts of telemetry from almost all their products, and in windows you can't even disable all of that.
> “But we’re also concerned with the irregular way this investigation is proceeding, including unusual arrangements with advisers who work with our competitors and vocal complainants."
There are two interesting things, to me, about this. First, as Google has expanded into many more things it's hard to find consulting technologists who don't complete with Google in some manner. For example, Google has a web site builder for businesses. It could be argued any web developer is a competitor.
Second, the language use of "irregular" and "unusual" is interesting. I wonder what is unusual here. The specifics. Or, is this language meant to make us feel or think something. The US government regularly uses contractors and consultants. Is that unusual in investigations like this? How unusual are investigations like this?
You could say that, but no such stretching is needed in this case. News Corp has been a vocal opponent of Google for some time. It's not a case of a lawyer working on something that happened to be in a business that Google competes in.
In the Forbes link Google talks about competitors. The legal folks from News Corp would be in a different category to that.
I appreciate the desire and arguably the need to have different people at the news organizations and people pushing for causes (e.g., going after Google for potential abuses or issues). I do with new organizations were more interested in reporting the news and not making the news, if that makes sense.
If this is a politically motivated attack on the left, why have so many jurisdictions that are controlled by the left leaning party joining in the investigation?
Google is in the unfortunate position that Republicans don’t like them because they are bunch of “hippy liberals” and Democrats are well Democrats.
That said, in theory at least, the US Justice Department is supposed to be unbiased and not directed by the whims of the parties.
The Justice Department has never been unbiased. I don’t recall any scandals where the justice department were obviously been manipulated by a Democratic President (I’m not putting it past them), but there have been many reports about Bush II and Trump.
But even if it is not stated, the Justice departments more or less goes after cases along party lines.
Why should Republicans care about startups run by tech bro’s being squashed by big companies? It’s not like they will be able to donate large sums to PACs and they are probably hippy liberals too.
Not Google, but part of the overall strategy:
"“We can’t remove all of it because it will disproportionately affect conservatives,” said Kaplan, a former George W. Bush White House official and now the head of Facebook’s Washington office, according to people familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect professional relationships."
Google has destroyed free market in programmatic ads.
Arguably a giant no-holds-barred antitrust litigation every 15 years (Republican way) is better than onerous legislation that always ends up entrenching the incumbents (Democratic way).
For the record, I was just as opposed to government intervention when it came to MS. History shows that the market took care of that. The government had nothing to do with the rise of Amazon, Facebook, Google and the resurgence of Apple to take away MS’s influence on tech.
You might argue that it probably wouldn't be a huge loss but that would be your perspective there.
Nevermind the fact that the ad serving market, once you remove FB/Google/AMZN, is actually quite broad and diverse, especially in the display/programmatic world.
This being said, Chrome recent announcement wrt privacy & 3rd party cookies might be the final blow for a lot of indies. Not that I disagree with you and I believe a culling and a new approach is required, one that purposely avoid the SV giants and centralisation of data.
Besides if your income is dependent on third party ads, what happens as more people start using ad blockers? A content blocking framework has been built into iOS for 5 years. I haven’t seen a Google ad in half a decade.
I also don’t have a problem with first party ads controlled by the site or podcast ads.
That being said, I put my money where my mouth is. I pay for ad free streaming services and will buy an in app purchase in apps to avoid ads.
Now that Ben Thompson (Stratechery) is offering a podcast version of his Daily Update, I’m thinking about buying a subscription to his newsletter.
There were massive campaigns against it plus antitrust rulings in the EU.
To this day there is people out there suffering the consequences of MS' policies.
Same for Intel and others.
"It is possible that information could be made available to the authorities."
- Former Google CEO, Google Chairman and Alphabet CEO
Perhaps statements that could apply to David could apply equally to Goliath.
Isn't it typical for regulators to work with competitors of the company accused of antitrust violations? Who is better positioned to identify abuses of the market leader? It's regulators' job to assess what about the reports actually is an abuse.
While I think a lot of this hubbub is motivated by political grudges, I can't help thinking that we would all be better off if the current generation of popular computers (phones, tablets etc) somehow allowed third party app stores.
Yet it was anticompetitive.
I'm not sure that third party app stores would really address much at all as far as the nature of Google's competitiveness.
Your point stands, nevertheless.
I suspect Google thinks it is more than that.
Maybe outside the lawsuit they're encountering telling someone asking for something and they say "No you can't have that." and the next day they get a copy and paste of the same request via this other investigation?
Granted that's speculation but I suspect there is a fine line between a legit investigation and someone driving the government wheel who is simply a competitor.
Private browsing isn't cutting it for some reason.
Now - you could make a strong argument that G shouldn't be allowed to own have mobile, search, ads, maps etc. which creates altogether another kind of monopoly, but, there's no need to swing the ball so far as to 'limit access'.