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U.S. Accuses Google of Illegally Protecting Monopoly (nytimes.com)
1572 points by 1915cb1f 38 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 824 comments



All: there are multiple pages of comments in this thread. You can reach them via the More link at the bottom of each page, or like this:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24836520&p=2

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24836520&p=3

For those wanting the real thing, the Justice Dept complaint is here (thanks to r721 below):

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/7273457/10-20-20-...


I’m much more interested in the Ad-tech Monopoly. The Doubleclick merger should have never been approved.

“Other states are still considering their own cases related to Google’s search practices, and a large group of states is considering a case challenging Google’s power in the digital advertising market, The Wall Street Journal has reported. In the ad-technology market, Google owns industry-leading tools at every link in the complex chain between online publishers and advertisers.

The Justice Department also continues to investigate Google’s ad-tech practices.” [1]

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/justice-department-to-file-long...


Couldn't agree more, the adtech is where the monopoly lies. I worked for a doubleclick / ads 360 competitor and it was so plain that Google used its dominant position not only to squash competitors like us but also to further obscure the auction mechanisms. Today it's a challenge to specify exactly what you want to bid for a given keyword, in part for the better since it dramatically reduces complexity for advertisers but it does remove a lot of the control and hands it back to... Google. Ultimately the auction is completely irrelevant since Google decides which ads will show and by extension whose ad money they'll pocket. In addition to that, Google charges premium for ad space even in non-competitive markets; I'm talking about what you end up paying for a top spot although there are no other actors in the auction for a particular keyword (even in broader matches). While one could argue that it's up to them as a publisher to decide what a spot is worth, this mechanism is completely obscure and you will only ever find out in hindsight through what you pay for the traffic.


> Google charges premium for ad space even in non-competitive markets; I'm talking about what you end up paying for a top spot although there are no other actors in the auction for a particular keyword (even in broader matches).

Google uses a Vickery Auction, in other words the top bid pays what the second bidder bid so while I agree with your greater point, this is not based in reality as stated.


They are actually first priced auctioned now

https://www.blog.google/products/admanager/simplifying-progr...


The post states that 90+% of google's auctions are still second priced:

> It’s important to note that our move to a single unified first price auction only impacts display and video inventory sold via Ad Manager. This change will have no impact on auctions for ads on Google Search, AdSense for Search, YouTube, and other Google properties, and advertisers using Google Ads or Display & Video 360 do not need to take any action.


yeah that's right, my mistake for not writing that. I only ever used their programmatic product


2nd price auctions have been dead for 2+ years due to header bidding. For anything in which Google has to compete against other SSPs or DSPs, I'd imagine it is the same. If Google owns the content, such that they are the single party SSP/DSP, and header bidding is not possible, then I suppose 2nd price could come in.


What is header bidding? I also thought Vickery auctions were still in use.


I think it’s a way for publishers to simultaneously auction the same bit of space in multiple exchanges. I guess that this means they have to use first price auctions, though I don’t have a super great idea as to why.


I wrote an article on the subject: https://michelenasti.com/2019/10/21/how-internet-ads-work.ht... You may find the answer in the last paragraph. Basically, the browser will ask multiple bidders for an ad, and then an auction is performed in the browser. The result of this first auction may be then sent to google to see if there's a better offer from them. It's called "header bidding" because... in origin.. this stuff was done in the <head> part of the page.


Thanks. That's a very well written article, I enjoyed learning from it.

The auction is performed in the browser? No wonder the web feels pokey these days.

I thought at first this must be due to the privacy requirements around cookies, only the browser can coordinate the different parties because none of them will be sent all the cookies needed to run a complete auction themselves. But it seems like it's really more some kind of hack around a limited (for business reasons) Google API.


Yes, I didn't express that correctly; I know about the second price auction and what I was referring to is that since Google does everything in their power to get you away from keyword level bidding and into their "smart bidding" solutions you have no _direct_ say in what the traffic costs (AFAIK it's still possible to use keyword level bidding but Google will email you very regularly to try to get you off). This fact is even more obvious in non-competitive markets as I was trying to point out.


I manage a decent size Google Adwords account. The Google adwords "strategist" they have call me is always pushing the Smart Bidding endlessly. So I try it on one campaign. Smart bidding increased the click cost from about $20 to $100. The one click converted but I get conversions on that campaign for about $60 so it was a disaster. Turned off that smart bidding and went back to my own eCpc bidding.


Same experience here... I even told them and they continue pushing.


Honestly, how would anyone ever know if Google does what they say they're doing? Is there any trusted third party auditing Google's ad auctions? If Google says $X was the price at auction, how would I ever dispute that?


How would anyone ever know that Facebook hasn't designed it's algorithms for spreading misinformation and disinformation? How would anyone ever know that Apple doesn't use your photos to train an AI? How would anyone ever know that the Amazon doesn't peek into your RDS database?

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/08/technology/yo...

>> Several current and former YouTube employees, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because they had signed confidentiality agreements, said company leaders were obsessed with increasing engagement during those years.

>> One problem, according to several of the current and former YouTube employees, is that the A.I. tended to pigeonhole users into specific niches, recommending videos that were similar to ones they had already watched.

There are real human beings working on those systems. That's how everyone would know if Google does as it says


If something fishy indeed goes on in a large company, it must be on a need-to-know basis.

But the higher access you get, higher the penalties of sharing company secrets go.

Snowdens come into the picture every once in a while, but most average programmer Joes wouldn’t risk being internationally manhunted for whistleblowing questionable business practices.

So I do not think your argument is valid.


While it’s possible for companies to keep secrets, most companies lack the secrecy and paranoia required to really keep big secrets for long periods of time. These companies tend to leak, both because people move around a lot, and because unlike governments they lack the ability to throw leakers in jail.

If google was actually futzing about with the auctions like that, we’d probably find out eventually.


Snowden is running from the government, not from a corporation.


[flagged]


Google is a client of the Pinkertons, a very old union busting company with a history of brutal tactics [0]. One of their employees was recently charged in a murder during riots in Denver [1].

[0] https://newrepublic.com/article/147619/pinkertons-still-neve... [1] https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/juliareinstein/security...


That is factually incorrect regarding the the classification of the aforementioned person as an employee of Pinkerton’s.

Pinkerton sub-contracted this person.


My apologies, thanks for correcting me.


It’s not really the same organization anymore; they got bought by Securitas in 1999.


Your comment is irresponsible. You're saying "I'm not saying it could happen here, but it could happen here"

Conversely, a corporate whistleblower at the level we're discussing is in for a payday from media/book deals, etc.


My statement isn't irresponsible. Corporations are universally amoral. If it was in Google's interests to do it, they would. But I think that, right now, those interests don't exist.

That being said, someone that is in that situation, if the stakes are high enough, might be dissuaded just knowing that such things happen.


People make decisions. At some point, all corporate decisions go through people.

Would you (reader) want to bet your life against a conference room full of people with $1M+ worth of stock options you're about to negatively impact? Where a bad outcome for you only requires their silence?

There are many people in the world who value morals over money. There are a few who value morals over lots of money. But that's not a bet I'd take.


Me neither. It's a very small likelihood, but I highly value my life. Just knowing about that possibility would chill me to the bone.


Facebook has designed its algorithms for spreading misinformation and disinformation, because emotion drives engagement.


>> Facebook has designed its algorithms for spreading misinformation and disinformation, because emotion drives engagement.

If emotion drives engagement, then this should apply to positive emotions as well. All emotional posts, positive or negative, will be treated equally by the algorithm according to your logic. Hence it follows, that facebook hasn't explicitly designed it's algorithms to spread only misinformation and disinformation, acc to your logic.

I would like to see some proof that would back up your statement.


Two points:

1. It doesn’t matter what the valence of the emotions are - positive or negative valence feedback loops will spread misinformation and disinformation. Positive emotion is not correlated with truth.

2. If you haven’t heard about this idea before, here is a starting point: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/05/opinion/digital-technolog...


>> Positive emotion is not correlated with truth.

I assumed from your previous comment(below) that you are correlating negative emotion with misinformation and disinformation. If that's not what you meant, then I guess I misunderstood what you meant by your previous comment

>> Facebook has designed its algorithms for spreading misinformation and disinformation, because emotion drives engagement


The easiest negative emotion to cause with a post is outrage, which goes nicely with fake news.

The easiest positive emotion to cause are at the result of puppies and wholesome/faith-in-humanity-restored posts, neither are generally related to actual truthful news.


I don’t see how that assumption is implied by anything I said in what you quoted. There is no reference to the valence of the emotion.


If emotion drives engagement and you optimize for engagement, then you will optimize for emotionally-charged posts over emotionally-neutral posts. If you then assume that emotionally-charged posts are more likely to be mis/dis-information, then you have a case.

I don't think this assumption is necessarily true for random misinformation (think common myths), but propaganda is usually designed to be emotionally charged, from PR to state propaganda.


The whole debate isn't even wrong in the first place as the questions are beyond "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" and into adding absurdities as qualifiers like "have you stopped beating your wife with a prized family heirloom yet?".

So bad it arguably qualifies as misinformation in itself. If an algorithim spreads any information and cannot classify it (if you have a general purpose algorithim which can know all truth apriori what are you doing here instead of creating a singularity!). Then /design/ which implies intent and effectiveness. Otherwise if I burn a Trump Voodoo doll I will have designed something with the "intent" to kill the President. Even if Fox News would be very offended by it nobody sane would take it as a serious assassination attempt.


That only makes sense if your voodoo doll didn’t actually kill the president. Facebook does spread misinformation.

As to intent - at some point in the distant past before it became clear what it’s effects were, you could argue that Facebook wasn’t designed to spread misinformation.

Once you know what a thing does and how it works, if you keep operating it, it is by design.


Hang on, you think there are individuals who can reason about how complex systems work with perfect certainty?


Heck, Thinking there are individuals who actually understand such a large system are complex.

Even at organizations orders of magnitude smaller than Facebook, it's pretty easy to have a few systems that are large enough you can only keep so many in your head at a time.

You'd probably need a few dozen of the right people together to begin to understand the complexity of their systems.


If you're truly paranoid, you can certainly encrypt data in RDS with keys that you have and Amazon doesn't.

But yes, the rest they expect us to take on faith. Or trust some boilerplate in their ToS (written by their lawyers, to absolve them of liability).


Yes, and you could do anything else that you want with your app. However, if your application is hosted on their servers you are just a traditional user from their perspective. And as the old adage goes, if you own the server, you own the user.

There is an implicit assumption, that the code that you push is actually the same one that is being run on the VM, in your statement. This brings me back to the point I was trying to make in the parent comment.


The encrypted traffic will be the traffic Amazon will be most interested in, since you took the trouble; they won't peek into the DB but they will be able to infer lots about what's going on if they want. It's the Tor Paradox.


I understand the line of reasoning above and would normally follow it - but Facebook, Apple and Google have all shown that they will do really shady things if they can get away with it. The reaction to Project Dragonfly was pretty nice to see, but you really have to wonder how many things like that make it through without any public outcry - I know real human beings and most of them are pretty awesome, some of them are sociopaths who'd do anything to make a buck though... we're gambling that some moral ones get into the decision making process and, tbh, if the sociopaths have their way the moral ones will remain blissfully ignorant of the shady stuff.


This is a pretty good point. I spoke to a developer from facebook once and they said essentially that there is nothing super secretive happening behind the curtains.

Yes they may be evil and doing all this bad stuff, but we pretty much know all the evil stuff they are doing publicly.


Or that Facebook developer just doesn't know about the super secretive happenings behind the curtains. If they did, they probably wouldn't talk about them. :)


Why would "a developer" have access to every company secret?

Does "a developer" know Facebook's long-term goals, its interim strategies, or details of its relationships with operations like Cambridge Analytica?


I suppose it boils down to buying a service at a price, and the “bidding” process is just a price discovery tool for Google, not the customer. Is there anything wrong with Google charging me double via an “internal bid bot” so long as the big cost is in line with my boundaries?

If I’m trying to buy a car off a showroom floor, and the salesman says “you better take this price, I got 4 more people lined up to buy it,” does it matter if those 4 others are not genuinely interested or even real at all? It’s a bit slimey if a sales tactic, but if you say “I’ll pay nothing more than X,” you’ve lost the negotiating position. If you tell google “I’ll pay $3cpc for this phrase”, well now they should be shopping that phrase with all its might.

At the end of it, google has a primary interest in keeping its adtech optimized in a bang-for-buck sense for consumers vs it’s earnings. If they get carried away with charging too much, customers will start just walking away without a purchase. Just like the car salesman.


Is there any 3rd party auditing what your business or your company is doing? I don't think that's the way business works in the USA unless you have a contract with a company that they can audit your services/products/etc. That's between two companies and not a public service.


Depends on what industry you're in. In the banking world, it's extremely common to have auditors, escrow firms, and government regulators keeping an eye on what you're getting up to.


yes auditing is pretty standard. Thats a big part of the big 4 accounting firms work, since they are preparing tax docs and verifying numbers, they need to peek below the hood. Also, insurance companies will audit their clients to be sure premiums match coverage.


Thanks to anti-trust actions both from the US and EU, we will find out.


"Ultimately the auction is completely irrelevant since Google decides which ads will show and by extension whose ad money they'll pocket."

And which Publishers will receive their share of the scraps.


Wherefore? FB and other such platforms are much better at display ads technology, as they don't care about user privacy at all. User tracking is the only real discriminator when it comes to display ads, where as search queries are very discriminating.


DuckDuckGo claim to make significantly less money per search than Google does, which seems to disprove that search queries are enough of a discriminator on their own.

Source: https://spreadprivacy.com/search-preference-menu-duckduckgo-...

Despite DuckDuckGo being robustly profitable since 2014, we have been priced out of this auction because we choose to not maximize our profits by exploiting our users. In practical terms, this means our commitment to privacy and a cleaner search experience translates into less money per search. This means we must bid less relative to other, profit-maximizing companies.


Could be that DuckDuckGo users just aren't good ad targets. The big thing separating them is "hates big corporations", I could easily see advertisement for big corporations not being a big hit for this crowd.


I'm a DDG user. I do not "hate big corporations". I may dislike some big corporations. I've enthusiastically worked for others.

I hate poverty, injustice, and bigotry. I cannot stir up strong feelings about an advertising company.

On the other hand I am a terrible advertising target, not wholly impervious to advertising but actively resistant, in part having seen under the bonnet of the sector and found little but a morass of grubby lies and folks with broken moral compasses. I intentionally interpret advertising as noise, not signal.

(corollary: attempts to disguise advertising are an irritant and a cognitive burden, so I allocate advertorials, content marketing, and drip-email compaigns to the Brand Damage circle of hell)


Maybe, but one big difference I notice between the two is that a search for <brand> on Google often has the top result as an ad for that brand, whereas on DDG it will be the same result but not an ad. It seems that brands don't have to “defend their turf” on DDG by buying ads on their own name as they do for Google.


I wonder if DuckDuckGo would be more successful if it was easier to find out how to advertise with them. Like, a link on the page that says "Advertise on Duck Duck Go." I've tried to advertise with them in the past a few times and gave up. I posted here before also, as I think Gabriel used to read the pages.

I use them for search as my default, and I would have used them for ads. I still might if they put a link there.


From what I've heard, DuckDuckGo sources its ads from Bing. I searched for "camera" on DuckDuckGo and the ad links have URLs that redirect to Bing, e.g. "https://duckduckgo.com/y.js?ad_provider=bingv7aa&u3=https://......".


Agreed, it took me far too long to find an answer to this.

Apparently you have to sign up for some Microsoft ad platform, and then select DDG as one of the places to show your ads.


Actually I don't believe you can place on DDG. You can only select "Bing, AOL, and Yahoo search syndication search partners"


Wow. So you're really advertising through Microsoft.

Hopefully someday DDG will have its own index.


There's a reason MS and Google have an index and DDG doesn't. It's expensive.


I would like to see data on Google's revenue distribution per user, guessing it would be very lopsided. Some users are clicking ads for 50%+ of their searches. DuckDuckGo users are different because they most likely at minimum know the difference between a search result and an ad.


There's no way that "some users" (implying a significant proportion) are clicking ads 50% of the time after they do a search. that would be a very rare duck indeed.


We've heard of this pattern:

1. Search Facebook login

2. Click first link

This user probably clicks a lot of ads.


I should certainly hope that DDG makes less per search than Google, since they are just repackaging a lot of google searches.


Bing.


Well yes they're getting "their" search data from Bing, but I meant how a lot of people seem to just use DDG to `!g [search]`.


`!g search` isn’t a repackaging - it just redirects you to google.com/search?q=search


Search queries are generally enough for ads, but DuckDuckGo only makes money on selling those ads, while Google also sells your person information connected to the search.


factually incorrect


This isn't true.


the Need Some Anonymity begs to differ


> the Need Some Anonymity begs to differ

I don't know what this means.

But Google doesn't sell data. They let you buy ads against people that match your data or requirements, and that's a pretty fundamental difference.


Yeah, I was trying to figure out how to say that Google further monetizes your search info without saying they sell your data, but gave up. It's still why Google makes more per search.


Still creepy. They still track user behaviour across sites to collate the data, so that they can put you into a neatly packaged silo for advertisers.


Need Some Anonymity == NSA == National Security Agency

But not sure what OP meant by that


Probably true, but antitrust law is based on consumer welfare. Let’s say Google uses monopoly power in the ad market to squeeze advertisers. It’s hard to translate that into direct harm to consumers.

That argument would either hinge on the cost of advertising being passed along to consumers. Very hard to prove. Or the higher cost decreasing the total amount of advertising, somehow harming consumers. Dubious when ad-free products are generally considered premium and desirable


> Probably true, but antitrust law is based on consumer welfare.

I don’t believe this is true. The law doesn’t set that criteria, but rather it’s a standard of interpretation known as the Chicago School. This was established far after, but is not law.

There’s a lot of debate on whether or not we should continue to maintain the standard.

https://www.law.uchicago.edu/news/reassessing-chicago-school...

Antitrust legislation was originally established to prevent monopoly power from giving a company influence that could challenge that of government and harm democracy.


It is an interpretation, but one explicitly endorsed by 30 years of Supreme Court precedent. Given the current composition of the court, it's unlikely that we'll ever see the consumer welfare standard overruled in our lifetime.


> Let’s say Google uses monopoly power in the ad market to squeeze advertisers. It’s hard to translate that into direct harm to consumers.

Almost as if what harms the ad industry is good for consumers ...

Also, "direct harm to consumers" is about the lowest bar you can set. It would be way more responsible to take some preventative action, before the harm to consumers occurs.


The consumers here are the advertisers.


I concur, I think this is when Google really jumped the shark. That said I believe it would be relatively easy to break up the company 1) office/mail/maps service as a pay to play 2) cloud service 3) search service. Obviously 1 would have to go to a rival ad platform or freemium to pay the bills, maybe also keep the "non search" ads platform. 2) and 3) should be able to pay for themselves 3) with related ads to the search.


Also 4) Android.


I suppose Android can make money from % take of sales. Obviously it works for apple :) . Maybe not 30% though


My read on this is they want to harp on the old "they're not showing conservative sites" theme again. Maybe I'm wrong.


Exactly, Doubleclick acquisition should not have been approved. I’m wondering if we still have that same approvers still “doing their job”


the level of understanding in government of how the Internet was shaping up way back then was really really low; I was around then and felt it was crazy but unless the regulators can understand and measure an industry, they won't every stop an acquisition like Doubleclick.


Forgot about the monopoly -- how about outright fraud?

As someone who used to operate a domain parking service, I've seen evidence numerous times of google taking away publisher earnings because of alleged clickfraud, but then not refunding advertisers for those same clicks.

I know of three advertisers who were appearing in AdSense ads on a publisher page back in 2009 that Google refused to pay out because of "click fraud", and none of these advertisers received refunds or any indication that they were defrauded. Google took the money that was supposed to go to the publisher, kept it, and didn't refund the advertisers. They probably never do. I ended up paying $800 out of my pocket to compensate my users for the lost revenue.

I have also worked with hundreds of advertisers in the SEO space, and I have never, ever, seen someone say they had ad money refunded because of click fraud, yet I've seen plenty of publisher earnings held back because of supposed click fraud. Google's fight against click fraud is really just a fight against paying out to publishers, full stop.

Google also used to do this crazy shit (don't know if they still do as I'm not in that space anymore) where they would change the TOS at midnight and then retroactively block the past month's earnings on hundreds of accounts that are violating the seconds-old TOS. Pretty sure that is illegal as well.

If you think about it, Google has zero incentive to stop real click-fraud, especially if their chosen course of action is to just keep the money and not have to pay publishers or refund advertisers. This space needs regulation, and it's needed it for over a decade.

I will happily forward what I have if someone knows how to get in touch with investigators.


I would assume Google just shows more ads on other sites to compensate for the fraudent clicks. Why should they give you money back when they can just fulfill their side of the contract by showing ads to non fraudent users.


It's funny that never actually occurred to me as a possibility. I would have to get in touch with the advertisers to see if that data is still in their account (which may be possible, I'll see what I can do).

It's also not sufficient even if they do that. Many advertisers will run a time-sensitive campaign -- free traffic 3 weeks later in those scenarios is worthless. I actually doubt google does this because if they did it would be most easily implemented as an account credit.

They just keep the money and hope no one ever holds them accountable for anything.


That isn't the way ad auctions work. They don't make it up 3 weeks later. They make it up in real time. The decision on where to show an ad is done in milliseconds. If it doesn't show up on your site it shows up on a different site instead right then.


Click-fraud decisions happen weeks later when it's time to send payouts to publishers. It will show $800 pending for deposit and then will say removed and you'll get an email about click fraud.

That's what happened in this scenario. $800 / a month worth of earnings on a publisher account got wiped out minutes before the new pay period started.


When the click fraud decision is made and when the decision is communicated are different things.

When combating fraud, communicating the result of fraud decisions gives fraudsters information they can use to evade fraud protections. The faster the feedback loop for fraudsters, the faster they can find the gaps. Give feedback too quickly, and you'll never keep up in the cat-and-mouse game.


Ahh that's a piece I didn't notice in the post. That does change things yes.


I suspect G doesn’t do strict budget enforcement because that would be “fraud-intolerant.” They likely show in more places and, if no fraud, for the extra they charge $0 to the advertiser.

Having said that, I have also heard similar case where someone was banned for fraud when he wasn’t doing anything of the sort, and he had no way to dispute it. This was over a half-a-decade ago.


Google constantly takes 10-12% of adsense earning as "invalid traffic". Now we obviously dont use bots, we have real users, so i can only assume they consider those misclicks. Or something else, they have no transparency. The RPMs have been going down for a decade even as our traffic is stable, and slightly up during covid.

They also don't fill our inventory. I wish we had alternative ways to find advertisers.

I have yet to see studies confirming that the money that advertisers spend is made good on google marketplace or fb marketplace etc. Sure they may see 50% of it working, but what about the rest of it?


How about this? They have zero incentive to stop click fraud because they want to show one set of numbers to potential customers that their ROI will be significant. Meanwhile they bait you, hook you, then you don’t see the results they promised. Exactly as you said.


So you think Google's ad business is sustained by unhappy customers who get burned and quit?


> As someone who used to operate a domain parking service, I've seen evidence numerous times of google taking away publisher earnings because of alleged clickfraud, but then not refunding advertisers for those same clicks.

Because they're not charged at all in the first place? No charge, so nothing to refund.

https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2549113


that's for instantly detected fraud clicks, OP is speaking about it being marked as fraud later.


Google does filter out invalid clicks on the advertiser side as well.

https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2549113

Edit: spelling


Google does a bunch of things that are less than ideal. What this complaint alleges doesn't seem to be one of those things.

Here's Google's response: https://blog.google/outreach-initiatives/public-policy/respo...


The media reporting as well as Google's response is entirely focussed on the consumer monopoly on search, but the DOJ complaint focusses equally on potential anti-competitive practices in the search advertising market. The DOJ describes the situation well here:

110. There are barriers to entry in these advertising markets that protect Google’s advertising monopolies. Most critically, search advertising of any kind requires a search engine with sufficient scale to make advertising an efficient proposition for businesses. Specialized search engines require significant investment, including the cost of populating and indexing relevant data, distribution, developing and maintaining a search algorithm, and attracting users. Search advertising of any kind also requires (1) a user interface through which advertisers can buy ads, (2) software to facilitate the sales process, and (3) a sales and technical support staff. The same barriers to entry that apply to general search services also protect Google’s general search text advertising monopoly.

Declaring search advertising an illegal monopoly would not only open up the possibility for structural changes (requiring them to license the search advertising to other search engines, giving aggregators the ability to buy search advertising on google.com) but also exposes them potentially to large payments to advertisers who have been harmed in the past.


These arguments are so weak, if arguments like these hold we have similar analogies in other domains.

> search advertising of any kind requires a search engine with sufficient scale to make advertising an efficient proposition for businesses.

So does creating OSs. Let me make a similar statement on OSs: "selling OS of any kind requires certain scale with sufficient number of apps, for manufacturers to bundle your OS and app developers need the scale of OS to make it worthwhile for them to create apps".

Remember Windows Phone Catch 22. They created an OS which was reviewed well, seemed like a fresh take on UIs. But apps didn't come or came late, often buggy and not fixed in time. In the end it was never able to compete on apps.

> Specialized search engines require significant investment, including the cost of populating and indexing relevant data, distribution, developing and maintaining a search algorithm, and attracting users.

Didn't Siri and Alexa do exactly this to entrench their position in market. In fact voice search engines(assistants) often come as non changeable defaults.

In case of Siri it comes by default on more than a billion Apple devices.

The only way we exclude these from our discussion is if we go by a very narrow definition of search, these are here to stay and will possibly dominate search behaviour.


Keep in mind, the arguments are likely based on legal precedent, and not necessarily popular opinion or conventional wisdom.

I'm not disagreeing with you per se. Simply pointing out that legal stuff like this is a chess match. It's also unlikely the accused would go too far to tip their hand in terms of their defense.


Your analogies ignore the advertisement part of what you are quoting. Selling an OS doesn't require any particular scale at all, selling ads to display within an OS would.


> Selling an OS doesn't require any particular scale at all

It does require scale to build an OS, have appealing devices that ship with the OS and have apps that developers write because they can make money. How the OS is monetized makes no difference.

Look at Kindle as an example. Kindle has an ad subsidized model along with no ads one. Would Amazon even make the model work if they weren't big and didn't have other stuff to sell through it?

Look at game consoles, the cost of device and OS is subsidized by the cut Sony and MS receive from games. Would this model even work if they had no money or games to sell?

I will again circle back to Siri to make my point again. Apple is rumoured to be working on a search engine, this along with alrwsdy default Siri as a voice search engine. How do you think Apple is paying for all the cost of building and running this? Revenue they earn by selling devices. Can someone even compete to them using the same model if they don't have an OS or hardware to sell? Definitely no.

If we accept these analogies then a lot of tech companies are susceptible to analogous accusations.


Linux, the kernel, is free.

Haiku is written by volunteers (and before them BeOS challenged Microsoft due to exclusivity contracts required of OEMs).

TempleOS was written by a single person.

There are literally dozens of operating systems baked into all kinds of things that have small or volunteer dev teams. QNX, VxWorks, IOS (the Cisco one), the multitude of Unixes and BSDs, boutique/experimental ones like SkyOS or ReactOS.

Would anyone buy Playstation OS apart from a console? I don't know if there's a market for that (how is SteamOS going?). There might not be consumer demand, but a B2B offering could result in a sustained business.

Companies used to provide an OS to sell hardware. Linux mostly consolidated that market, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for more (macOS, remarkably, is still rocking 35 years later).


Linux required scale. It being free doesn't negate the requirement for a large group of contributors and corporate donors. Haiku OS doesn't have many serious users or use cases even after 18 years of development. I really appreciate the work they do but it shows how incredibly tough it is to make an operating system for the masses. TempleOS is definitely not something anyone uses except to try out the weird OS they heard about. It won't even run on my hardware without virtualization. QNX made by blackberry, IOS as you stated Cisco for its own hardware, VxWorks by TPG Capital and also an RTOS so not consumer hardware. SkyOS not in development for more than 10 years and never popular and ReactOS is intended to be binary compatible with an existing popular OS so even though it won't be popular it would be leveraging existing ecosystem of apps and resources.

I don't know what point you are trying to raise with playstation OS.

MacOS is developed by a 2 trillion dollar enterprise.

The point is not that OS can't be built without scale but rather that for a consumer OS ecosystem of applications and other resources and hardware choices are concerns that are really tough to solve without scale and thus the market consolidated to only a few popular players.


I think the argument could be made if it is talking about it's integration of search advertising with other types of ad sales. But yeah, if it's just talking about having the best search engine and selling ads on it, that's been the entire business of search engines since the beginning of the internet.


All that says is that running a business is hard. It doesn't say anything about uncompetitive practices.


@dang makes sense to add this in the top level comment as well, lest people create separate threads for this.


How did google get their own top level domain?




They bought it. A TLD costs $200K or more.


A lot of other brands have them, but they use it only for redirects and not as their main domain like Google does. Example: experience.apple


In reference to the default search engine partnership between Google and Apple:

"Though Google and Apple have been tight-lipped on how much their deal is worth, the lawsuit projects that it accounts for between 15% and 20% of Apple’s annual profits.

That means Google pays as much as $11 billion, or roughly one-third of Alphabet’s annual profits, to Apple for pole position on the iPhone. In return, Apple-originated search traffic adds up to half of Google search volume, the government says. Google declined to comment on that statistic, and representatives said they weren’t aware of the “Code Red” language included in the lawsuit." [1]

Thats a lot of revenue and if they clouded, this case may have legs.

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/googles-exclusive-search-deals-...


> Apple-originated search traffic adds up to half of Google search volume, the government says.

That doesn't seem plausible. It seems like it ought to be more like 10-20% of search volume going by market share. Unless Apple users are for some reason doing more searches than Android and Windows users.

I could see how maybe ad revenue from Apple users is disproportional to their market share because they're generally wealthier.


It's also possible they're referring to revenue. It's expected that users who buy accessible-luxury phones are worth more to advertisers and marketers.


I'd expect iOS devices to also last longer than cheap Android phones. That means that iOS usage share should be substantially higher than its market share


Your theory makes sense if people buy only one phone in their life time.


Not sure how that follows. If iPhones last twice as long as Android phones, then for every iPhone sale to one user there are two Android sales to one user. Thus in any given year, there are twice as many iPhone users as the market share of phones sold in that year would indicate.


You can actually look up device numbers. I did and was surprised. Apple 1.5 billion, android 2.5 billion, in 2019.

The comparison is a little murky because both stats include everything: watches, speakers, etc. But at least 900 million iphones were active.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/29/18202736/apple-devices-io...

https://www.androidpolice.com/2019/05/07/there-are-now-more-...


Maybe they're referring to US traffic only for some reason? The iPhone has something like 50% market share in the US.


Of course only US traffic counts and that "some reason" would be because their jurisdiction is only the US.


Wow, I didn't realize their market share was that large.


It's one of 4 trillion dollar market-cap US companies. Of course it's going to have significant market share as a result.


> Unless Apple users are for some reason doing more searches than Android and Windows users.

And also clicking on the ads, no?


Desktop browsers on Macs also report as 'Apple' devices.


Google earn more per 1000 searches than Bing by quite a margin (I believe there is a stat for this in the UK CMA report).

Google can offer an amount greater that any other search engine would find profitable. If I remember correctly, Google earn around double per 1000 searches than Bing does. Other English based indexes tend to use Bing ads and earn even less per 1000 searches.

I suspect the amount Google offers is an amount that is deliberately at a level that Bing would not be able to match.


As comparison: "The new search deal will ensure Google remains the default search engine provider inside the Firefox browser until 2023 at an estimated price tag of around $400 million to $450 million per year." https://www.zdnet.com/article/sources-mozilla-extends-its-go...


And now we see why Android exists, and how immensely valuable it is to Google.


I still dont understand what is wrong with that deal?

Apple has the option to go to Bing and the user has the option to change the default search engine.


It is a feedback cycle that has a negative effect on all consumers, not just the consumers that would use a different search engibne.

The feedback works like this: 1. Google is dominant and can outbid competitors. 2. Many (most?) users will not change default search provider so long as it is basically functional. 3. Google's competitors will only attract a minority of customers that realize they can change and decide to. 4. Google stays dominant and competition is stifled and with it any improvements.

As a user of alternate search engines, I am hurt because if 2 did not occur and people that did not care were distributed evenly then my search provider would have more revenue and would presumably hire more engineers to improve the service. Another competitor cannot capture that revenue from 2 simply because Google can always outbid them because of their dominance.

Of course, there are some number of people who would switch to Google if the default was Bing, but is it significantly different than the people switching now?


> Google is dominant and can outbid competitors

But Google is not the only dominant player, MS, Facebook, Amazon even Apple have the resources to make their own search engine and can pay others so that their search engine is the default one.

In this case MS can pay Apple to make Bing as the default.


Can you imagine the reaction to a default Facebook search on iPhones? Users would abandon them in droves.


I do think it's a lot better than the situation on Android phones. At least changing the default search engine is relatively easy on iOS (I've changed all my personal devices over to duckduckgo).


I want to have my own choice of search engine than Google/Yahoo/Bing/DuckDuckGo. I can't on iOS, I must choose from the 4 options and cannot supply my own.

Specifically: I want to use Yandex as an Australian.


Workaround: set search engine to DDG, then use !ya to search via Yandex.


Bit of a side question: how can deals be tight lipped in a publicly listed company? Can shareholders vote to make information public? Or is it just not common


The CEO is beholden to the board who are beholden to the shareholders. The CEO is generally not actually beholden to the shareholders (directly). Depending on the shares, the shareholders may or may not be able to actually influence the board.

Owning a share in coca cola doesn't give you a right to the secret formula.


Yes but the majority of shareholders do not vote against the business.


This doesn't seem like it's going to work. Given a choice between search engines pretty much everyone is going to choose Google. I think there are definitely areas that Google acts anti-competitively. But search? The competitors are a URL away. And few use them because Google is just flat out better.


There are structural issues that make it very difficult for new competitors to gain traction in search. For example, many website owners are now hostile to new web crawlers, but they're happy to allow Google to hammer their servers because they want that sweet, sweet search traffic.

Mandating a commonly accessible crawl, with cached versions of the pages, would help new entrants a lot.

Also, there're large network effects with ad networks. It seems unlikely that many marketing managers are going to take the time to do targeted keyword queries on your search engine with 1/1,000,000 the traffic of Google.


I don't know a single website owner that is hostile to any search engine web crawler, unless that web crawler is slamming them with so many requests they're effectively getting DDoS'd.


Reddit, twitter, facebook are just three to start. There are plenty that disallow crawlers except google. We've crawled a significant amount now and just because you are unaware of them doesn't mean they don't exist. I can attest they're there.

I'll also add plenty of sites don't block any engine but confer special privileges to google bot which depending on the site and their size are almost the same thing.

Edit: And I'll add to limit confusion Reddit hides the sitemap and denies access there's is not an outright ban -- it just makes it a lot harder.


Content kingdoms have their own reasons to be hostile to Everyone searching, including Google. Even when their content is "searchable" by Google, they'll tease you with something and gate almost all content.

They are part of the story of why Google is degrading, not why they're doing well.


Can't you just set your useragent to googlebot? Or something which isn't googlebot but which matches the most common regexes like "Not-Googlebot/2.1"


A lot of sites do some variation of these when you set googlebot as your UA, certainly the larger more sophisticated sites do.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/80553?hl=en

So unless you have a google domain your sol, it's also just generally frowned upon. We have our own UA WhizeBot with an email contact so you can let us know if our crawler is doing anything you'd rather it not.

There have been a few legal cases that protect scraping publicly available information on the web but we'd rather follow robots.txt to avoid the potential for shenanigans in any case.


wrt legal cases, are you referring to HiQ?


I am


That's "poor man's cloaking". Most people that genuinely care if it's Googlebot or not will verify it appropriately by doing a DNS lookup and a reverse DNS of that IP to ensure it's one of Google's IPs.

'Faking' the UA is much more likely to annoy site owners and end up with a permanent block.


I do, some third party search crawlers are just badly programmed, and after you get burned a bunch of times you just want to deny anyone who isn't one of the main players. I think they are basically startups with a lot of money to spend on crawl compute, but who haven't really figured out their crawl engine, and it can go wild on your site.

You also have bots that seem to be credential stuffing, bots that seem to be content scrapping (stuff with same typos shows up elsewhere after their visits, really obvious on new / fresh articles, bots that seem to be exploring for copyright claims, rando bots (maybe comment sentiment analysis for stock trading) etc.

Google is much more welcome by comparison.


Right, but that's not Google's fault, that's explicitly everyone who does a shit job of crawling's fault.

Generally I wouldn't qualify a lot of those as search engine web crawlers but more web scrapers looking to re-use data, not just surface it.


Try to crawl amazon.


Right, but that’s not really anti-search-engine, that’s anti-people-who-want-our-actual-data.

Like I said in another comment, if you’re someone that just wants to surface Amazon results they love you. It’s the people that want to take advantage of amazon data in some other way they’re trying to stop.


We run a search engine crawler at mojeek and have no hostility problems


Hey we do too at Whize, surely you've seen sites that give special privilege to Google and or lock the sitemap away.

While I don't know if I'd say "hostility" I would say passive aggressive to other crawlers.


Oh, good to know, thanks. Are you running relatively complete crawls of larger sites at similar rates to Googlebot?

I've definitely seen my share of robots.txt that give special permission to Googlebot, but maybe my corner of the web was unusually aggressive toward crawlers.


No, not complete crawls of any sites, we've aimed to get a wider coverage in place of deeper crawls. This means we have most sites indexed and are now gradually going deeper. We do encounter robots.txt blocks, but we don't see it as a major issue right now.

We have an API, in case of interest.


It’s a bit like saying, in 1911, that given the choice between petroleum companies, everyone is going to choose Standard Oil, to which the answer is a resounding yes, of course they will.

Ask anybody in much of the Midwest where they will choose to buy groceries and they will answer Walmart.

This kind of reasoning is not an argument against the philosophy behind antitrust regulations. Rather, it is emblematic of the situation that monopolies create for themselves, by using their economies of scale to create pricing that cannot reasonably be expected to lose any competition over customers.

The same economies of scale benefit consumers and the economy as a whole as long as the business behaves in a manner consistent with the shared values of society. As soon as they decide to behave differently, though, society is at the mercy of a monopoly because they have consumed the entire market.


It's not illegal to be a monopoly - especially by providing a superior product or service.

The case hinges on the no-compete, tying, and default placement agreements. If Google didn't pay anyone to be the default search engine, didn't require Android Phone makers to pre-install Google apps and make Google the default search in order to get access to Google services and the store, etc then there's no problem.

The complaint also says that one of the reasons Google's results are better is the network and scale effects that come from owning 80-90% of search. A competitor has a very difficult time no matter how good their algorithm because you need insights you can only get when people use your service at scale. I don't personally know if that is true but that's part of the complaint.

The proposed antitrust violation is likely the combination: using their dominant position to outspend any other players when paying for default placement to ensure they're the only one with the scale to have the best search results. That forms a self-reinforcing cycle: users who do choose pick you because you have the best results and you use that fact to fund no-compete and default placement agreements to ensure you have unmatched scale which further reinforces your ability to deliver the best results.

Again: I don't know if this is true or a valid argument, but it seems to be what the complaint claims.


Agree (responded in an earlier comment). If DOJ are going to look anywhere, it should be the advertising side of things and placement in search results (as opposed to sidebar ads). Even then, I'm not sure there is any case.


The question I would posit is: Do the actions from Google that the Justice Department consider to be anti-competitive prevent competitors from becoming better?

For example, let's say I could be curious about DuckDuckGo if I had to choose a default search engine when I got an Apple device instead of Google being the default, then that could be revenue to DuckDuckGo for them to improve their search engine.


So what are you going to do, force Apple to sell their search default option for less money (whatever DuckDuckGo can afford to pay) in order to support more competition? It's really Apple's choice and interest what it does with the default search, Apple could decide tomorrow to point it to its own search engine and there's nothing Google, the DOJ or anyone else can do about it.

Not really sure what the DOJ expect Apple or Google to do in this situation, it seems to me that 2 companies entered a mutually benefiting contract. You can't argue that Google "colluded" with Apple, there's a lot of throwing punches between each other (all the privacy oriented moves Apple is doing are hurting Google's business) and again Apple could be making its own search engine anytime they wanted, they already replaced Google Maps with their own thing.


The monopolized market in this case would be the market for default search engines on mobile.

If the only two players (Google and Apple) both use Google Search by default, then Google has effectively captured 100% of the mobile ad market. (And since Google is paying Apple et al for that default state, it is indeed a market.)

The court could require device makers (including Google itself) to prompt users to select their search engine provider, or potentially ban Google from buying search engine defaults from other companies (Apple, Mozilla, etc.) as an anticompetitive practice.


That's an interesting scenario. Let's say Google is banned from buying search engine defaults. Then Mozilla would no longer be able to sell the Firefox default to Google.

Sure, they could sell it to someone else, but without the biggest player bidding up the price, it'd probably sell for a fraction of what it does today -- which could be devastating to Mozilla, given that almost all of their funding comes from the search deal. What would that do to competition in the browser space?


Competition in the browser space is over and Chromium won. If this had been regulated earlier by preventing Google from preinstalling Chrome on all Android devices, we wouldn't be in this situation where Firefox is on life support, but here we are.

Using Firefox as a reason not to break up some of Google's hold on search seems extremely short-sighted. Besides, Edge using Chrome changed the whole browser market dynamic as more and more people are using it. Once Microsoft reaches a somewhat decent percentage of install we will be back at a two (three?) player situation.


Apple could actually make more money. Say Google is split into two renamed search engines: elgooGA and elgooGB, with evenly divided assets. They would immediately be two search titans competing for the important Apple contract and would try to outbid one another. Perhaps elgooGA wins Apple, but then elgooGB wins Firefox. Every alternative platform to Apple would stand to get more money. And the users would then become more accustomed to having different default search providers and usage might be split. That is a win for DuckDuckGo and all other competitors.


Regarding DuckDuckGo, my understanding is that though they have their own web crawler, most of the information is coming from Bing and Yahoo, who are the only direct competitors to Google.


You're mostly correct.

Yahoo has been Bing for years, and DuckDuckGo pulls from Bing and Yandex - the latter being mostly for searches in Russian.



Before asking "should we" we need to answer "can we". If forcing Google to give users a choice results in them picking Google anyways then whether we should do that or not is irrelevant. Since it won't achieve it's stated purpose there's no point in forcing it.


s/an Apple device/Chrome/


The question is: does any of the competitors stand a chance against Google if they can't acquire more users and therefore improve their engine with the added revenue? Seems like a catch-22, and having Google as the default search engine everywhere, including in the web browser they make and that has the highest marketshare only exacerbate this.


Default placement is way more powerful than typing in a URL, which most people never do for searching Google.


>few use them because Google is just flat out better.

I completely disagree with this part, but you're totally right on people continuing to use it.

Search is highly dependent on the query. At first DDG's results seemed bad to me, but after a while I think I've changed how I write my searches. It's hard to explain, but I guess I'm putting more thought into understanding what it is that I hope to find.

Now, Google's results seem to just be a listing of whoever did the best SEO targeting on the subject, and ultimately that means worse results for me. It's less about what I'm looking for and more about what Google has to show me... and Google always has something relevant to show me. When DDG doesn't, I'm forced to re-consider my query and try again, ultimately reaching a better destination.

However, "change the way you search" is niche at best. Google is satisfying because it's so easy to use, that you almost don't even have to write a query. It's like an automatic "I'm feeling lucky" based on it's knowledge of you and your location and time of day, etc...


Google's business is ads, not search


What is search these days but an ordered list of advertisements matching your keyword


good god is this overdramatic. This whole thread is. Google is a good citizen, but people on hacker news just love a good story about tearing up big tech. How is society better off with google torn up? Arguments I expect and don't accept:

1. It allows alt search engine or alt browser to succeed. So what? The alt search engines and browsers are worse than the google ones. It doesn't benefit any actual people to have them rise up.

2. Google screwed my friend one time. Every single company (and person) on earth is guilty of this. One swallow does not a summer make.

3. Google is restricting this tech I like, or google is sometimes wrong about their bans. See (2)

And so on. I haven't seen anything compelling in this thread, just a whole lot of hyperventilating.

And to your point. No, search is not a wall of ads. But if you feel that way, literally change your search engine. It's easier than typing this comment you just posted.


Google does have a great service, but calling them a 'good citizen' is a stretch, IMO.

The events of celebritynetworth.com are a good example of why they've not been behaving as a good citizen (there is a thread about that on this forum).

A good number of people have took up your suggestion and changed their search engine, DDG's traffic count continues to rise. The reality is that many users will use whatever is put in front of them, i.e. how many people use the URL bar of their browser for searches, or use a search toolbar for a specific URL? Google knows this well, hence their paying to be the default search engine choice and paying an amount that no other engine can match.

Google's knows they are the best in class when it comes to general search, but to be sure they have been aggressive in ensuring that no one else gets a look in.

The UK's CMA report estimates that an entrant to the market would require around £20 billion of capital to be a credible alternative, as in, a proper crawling search engine, not a meta search engine like DuckDuckGo. That's before paying the likes of Apple billions of dollars simply so that people will use "what is there".

Having such a dominant position comes with responsibility, which is not solely Google's. The social networks along with Google are essentially the gateways to the web and how they present that information is important- and essentially only one point of view. Having room for more competition, choices, algorithms surely is a good thing.


What if search is that way because Google has a vested financial interest in the advertising business?


wrong! they don't match

I was just searching for "quill", a javascript editor. I clicked the first result without really looking (after all, i m searching name, right? ) - and it took me to some competing product called fro-something. I wasted my time, their money , yet google still made money.


I just tried search for "quill" in incognito, and I got quill.com as the first hit (both ads as well as organic result) - apparently there's a company called Quill Corporation (quill.com). It seems reasonable to return that as the first hit. quilljs.com is 5th hit on the first page. "quill javascript" has quilljs.com as the first hit.

This seems reasonable. What's your suggestion on how to make this better ?


just checked my history, my first result was "froalla", happened more than once

(the query must have been "quill js" or "quill editor" cant remember -- it's an example of the infamous 'google® tax' - an obviously keyword-targeted ad)


Here's another one:

https://www.google.com/search?safe=active&client=firefox-b-m...

It is a search for "express-http-proxy" "logging" but at leat I got maybe one relevant result and a bunch of wildly unrelated ones, despite doublequotes.


Do you have an example of a page that is a good result for that query?


There was one among the top 10 when I did the search.

As for most of the rest of the first 10, null would have been a valid, more correct and generally better result!

I actually wasted several minutes on one of them right away since I haven't still gotten into the habit of verifying every single Google result to se that it actually is what I asked for and not whatever filler Google decided to use this time. Not that it should be necessary, - they had this sorted back before 2010!

Seriously: why can't Google or DDG get this right anymore?


This sounds like exactly what the grandfather post (by wasdfff) was discussing. A competitor advertised their product based on the keywords you searched for.

You didn't buy their product, but Google helped them get your gaze briefly.

What is search but a list of adverts associated with your keywords?


Google can do without this "google tax", and imho they should. It's unethical , and it's not like a competitor putting a sign next to yours. The user is literally searching for a brand and is instead driven to click another. At best the competitor should be an ad on the side in this case. Considering how (especially in mobiles) google is often used as a kind of DNS-autocorrect in the omnibox, this behavior is unethical on the same level as websites with popups. A rich company like google would not normally allow it to itself, they can easily dispense with such sleaziness. The fact that they can do it unpunished is indicative of a monopoly position.


It will work most likely. We aren't in 2000 any more and both parties are mad Big Tech. There will definitely be some heads rolling in FAANG in the next few years.


Many DOJ attorneys resigned from this case in protest of it being brought to bear too quickly. Bill Barr, US Attorney General, overruled senior DOJ attorneys who felt that it was impossible to bring a strong case against Google by rushing it before the election.

As a result, this complaint being brought is considered legally weak, and it gives Google's legal team a huge advantage in fighting it. If the decision to accelerate the case, at the cost of its strength, causes the complaint to fail, it'll probably be the last antitrust case against Google we'll see for some time.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/03/us/politics/google-antitr...


Last federal case probably. The Democratic states Attorneys Generals mostly have not signed onto the lawsuit because they don't want to be bound by unfavorable settlement terms (sorry I can't remember where I read that in the last couple days)


The democratic states said they will look to merge with this case in the coming weeks if they determine charges are appropriate.


11 states have joined this case


All Republican-led, at least as of the news article I read this morning.


As gundmc implied[1] it's probably best to wait unto after the election when looking for signals of credibility from the other party.

It's be foolish to just the merits of the case merely on that now.

[1]https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24842390


That's a good point. Right now it's unclear whether the Dem AGs really do reject the suit or whether they just don't want to add legitimacy pre-election.

Did sound an awful lot like they thought the suit was ill-timed and half-baked, though. I might have been misled by editorial content in the reporting.


Louisiana is Democrat-led


Attorney General of Louisiana is Jeff Landry, a Republican.


yes, please read my last comment with a /s ... I just find the politics of this all amusing.


I don't understand what that means; this isn't reddit, please don't just post blatantly false statements.


This means Louisiana's Governor is John Edwards, a democrat, and normally one refers to a US State being led by a Governor... not an AG. Though a legal filing is led by an AG... so the comments when added together led to ambiguity I found funny, and decided to play with. I should have linked to the Governor first, and fully explained my joke. I understand comedy is not what we come here for, but sometimes, it's good to not take everything so seriously.


The questions is if a stronger case would see the light of day in the next four years with a change in administration. Maybe Barr thinks the answer is no.


If the administration changes, and they don't want to pursue the case, they can just drop it or flop it. Barr will not get a result before Inauguration so he's reliant on the next (or re-elected) adminstration regardless.


Puts them on the record, though.


Not if the administration slow walks it, drags it out and then intentionally poorly presents its case as they realize its not in their interest to actually win it – which, if you spare me the speculation, is what a cynical person might say happened in the Oracle v. Google case, given that a positive result for Oracle there may mean Google now has huge swaths of newly-found copyrightable APIs of its own that its sitting on.

Note I say *the administration and not any particular candidate. I think both parties could (not to say they necessarily would) use this as mostly a political ploy to appeal to their bases without changing anything too drastic and walk away saying "we tried, blame the other side for the outcome" should they want to.


> Google now has huge swaths of newly-found copyrightable APIs of its own that its sitting on.

is this really useful to Google?

In Oracle vs Google, yes Oracle stands to make some good coin from Google's "theft" of Java APIs.

But how would Google benefit? Which of it's APIs would it use to unleash hell on its competitors?


Yeah, I don't see how Google could pursue something like that without turning a large part of the market off using Google technologies. Doesn't mean they wont try though.


Both-sides that shit, man. Both-sides it as hard as you can. LOL nothing matters.


You have three months left to put the next admin "on the record". But you only have two weeks left to influence the election. I think it's clear from the timing what the priority is.


Yeah, that really hurt the Reagan DOJ when it decided to tank the IBM anti-trust suit.


Sets the precedent that this is fine.


Yeah, puts them on record as bringing forth a weak case that's sure to lose.

Sounds to me like the current administration wants anti-trust to fail and going Leroy Jenkins on it right now is ensuring that a potential Biden administration has no hope of getting a strong case together. And if the current administration gets another term, they can push out a toothless settlement and claim "victory".


Maybe. Time will tell.


Exactly, it's a smart move. If a Biden administration wants to go easy on Google (and let's be honest: they do), now it'll be out in the open for everyone to see.

Democrats for a generation have been tough talkers about corporate power when speaking to the public, but doves when in private (or at fundraisers). Pinning them down is smart politics.


This makes no sense. Bringing a weak case now guarantees that DOJ won't pursue another case in the future after it gets its ass handed to it in court. There is plenty of support for going after big tech on both sides of the aisle --albeit for different reasons.

Here's a novel idea, how about we judge Bill Barr on his overriding multiple DOJ personnel in the weeks before an election instead of what intent you want to ascribe to a Biden admin. If the intent was to actually put pressure on the Biden admin, he had another 3 months to continue to build the case and then announce between the election and inauguration.


Bringing a weak case now guarantees that DOJ won't pursue another case in the future after it gets its ass handed to it in court

Simply because a complaint was filed does not mean that investigation doesn't continue. It's not as if the complaint cannot be amended or new complaints cannot be made.

But your question begging aside regarding this being a "weak case", if Barr felt (justly or unjustly) that the case wouldn't have been brought by a Biden administration then this may have been the best opportunity to make the complaint. It's not unreasonable to think that a Biden administration might be more sympathetic to Google. After all, Google was a prominent advising figure during the Obama administration and Harris is a San Francisco politician with Google relationships. Maybe that's a cynical view of the Biden administration or maybe it's not sufficiently cynical in evaluating Barr's motives. Such is politics and I don't really trust any of them.


It's not just a weak argument, it's a bad one.

> Simply because a complaint was filed does not mean that investigation doesn't continue.

While true, it does mean that you think you can make the case, which not many people think that they can, including a bunch of career prosecutors. I haven't seen a single outside analyst that has said this is a good case. Let's check in on what the market thinks of this case: GOOG: up 1.39% today as of time of this comment.

> that the case wouldn't have been brought by a Biden administration then this may have been the best opportunity to make the complaint.

Why? Why not November 4, or December 3, or January 14? Why now, 2 weeks before an election. It reeks of political motivation. Even if that wasn't the intent, it has the appearance of that intent which could have easily been avoided by simply waiting until after the election day.


Why? Why not November 4, or December 3, or January 14? Why now, 2 weeks before an election. It reeks of political motivation.

There are more types of political motivation than just vote seeking, and the timing is certainly political. If there's any time to get Biden and/or Harris on the record regarding whether they will continue to pursue the complaint is now. There will be no motivation for them to do so after the election no matter who wins.


> If there's any time to get Biden and/or Harris on the record regarding whether they will continue to pursue the complaint is now

Huh? How does doing this now, when the Trump campaign sucks up all the oxygen in the room going to lead to someone asking the Biden campaign about this.

99% of the people will literally not care what Biden has to say about this case, or what an independent DOJ under a Biden admin chooses to do with this in 3 months from now. It's only value is the current news cycle and hence vote seeking.


The problem there is that then we'll hear complaints that the incoming administration is either incompetent or corrupt for the Google probe failing or being dropped.


Or the current administration is acting out not on fully legal basis.


This seems like a pretty decent hedge on the outcome of the election to me. If it a strong case and they win, Barr can take credit if Trump stays in office or if Biden wins and cleans house.

If they lose the case and Trump is re-elected, Barr can lick his wounds and try again in a year or so with a stronger case.

If they lose the case and Biden cleans house, he can blame the Biden administration for dropping the ball.


This case is going nowhere before the election one way or another. This will take years to litigate.


The current administration would still have until January.


Their goal isn't to actually enforce antitrust though, it's to appear strong for the election. So anything after November is completely useless to them. Your comment implies that once Democrats take over, there will be no more appetite for an antitrust case, which is not true.


It’s going to take a year or two for any decision. MSFT antitrust started in 98 and was done till 2001.


At least. The MSFT case ended early because the newly elected administration backed out.

Google v Oracle is 10 years old.


Of course the answer is no. Big tech have been tripping over themselves to help Biden.


> it'll probably be the last antitrust case against Google we'll see for some time.

...in the USA.


... or what's left of it in a few weeks. It might actually be the last time they ever get to vote.


I think there are legitimate things worth investigating Google for. And other big tech companies too.

But right now? Just before an election? Hand it off to career DoJ people and let them bring it some time next year.


That would make sense if the goal was to actually win the case. The actual goal is optics and to feed the victim complex of one side of the "culture war" ahead of the election.


The comment about “just before an election” is kind of interesting to me. If the law doesn’t dictate that the powers of the government aren’t valid at this time, then shouldn’t they still be doing their job?


Yes, they should do their jobs by not rushing the case to court to get a cheap political win.


Would waiting a few months cause large problems in their ability to do that job? Would it significantly decrease the risk of this being seen as some kind of politicized decision?


The AG could be replaced by a new administration and the case could get tabled.


If anything, an anti-trust prosecution is more likely to go ahead in the unlikely event Biden takes office. The Democratic party has a much greater willingness to engage in regulatory actions against large businesses than does the GOP.

The GOP pushing a rushed (and therefore, weak) case now smells of a designed-to-fail effort that will only strengthen Google's position by poisoning the well against effective anti-trust efforts in the future.

It may also be partisan. Facebook has received considerably less attention from Washington as it has become more cooperative with Republican demands that conservative-oriented fabricated news remain on the platform[0]. Google has made no such commitments and might be in the GOP's sights as a result. While the DOJ is playing to lose, defending the case will cost Google money and this could be a lever to encourage them to follow Facebook's lead and give preferential treatment to conservative fake news.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/business/media/facebook-d...


There is no evidence that Biden would go after big tech at all. It's not part of his platform. They are benefitting bigly from donations and favorable coverage from FAANG. Biden himself is prone to sell out to foreign companies as evidenced by his son's dealings in China, Ukraine, and Russia. You can't expect someone that corrupt to go after monopoly corruption.


You’re making two common mistakes, hopefully unwittingly: don’t confuse the modest leanings of FAANG workers with their bosses’ - the major tech companies PACs and executives heavily donate to whoever they think will be able to lighten regulation or give them favorable tax breaks. Peter Thiel and Palmer Luckey are not freak unicorns but represent a sizable fraction of people and money.

Secondly, try to find evidence supporting the wild claims going around about either Biden. You’ll note that these claims tend to be very long on supposition but short on evidence and the people promoting them hace significant conflicts of interest. Just as when most of the same people said Clinton was more corrupt than Trump, they’re banking on you reading the headline but not critically examining the story.


In a world that is increasing polarized it is important to remember:

Just because evidence that contradicts your world view doesn't exist within you filter bubble of preferred information sources doesn't necessarily mean that evidence doesn't exist period.


Yes, I'm quite aware of that — note that I was suggesting that OP look for the actual evidence rather than relying on other people's claims. Their echoing of attacks which have been unsupported by evidence but common in conservative circles suggested that they were inside such a filter bubble


Honest question not trying to attack you. Do you really think think you are any different than OP?


I think it’s very different because the original person made a very bold claim, and the other said “I don’t know if I’ll believe that without evidence”. The burden of proof lies on the one who makes the original claim, not the one who doesn’t believe it without evidence.


Without making a judgement on the veracity of the claims.

There is at least circumstantial evidence in this case. I have noticed that the tactic used to defend biden has become to place insurmountable burden of proof on anyone who claims wrong doing while giving the bidens every benefit of the doubt. Which is gaslighting.

That is akin to saying "there is no evidence OJ killed his wife. The bloody glove found at his home has all the hallmarks of being planted by russian intelligence".


I can't speak for OP but while this is a common cognitive pitfall it's also one which you can intentionally correct for by attempting to anchor your beliefs on original sources and making an effort to find things outside of your immediate community. People are going to be successful at this to varying degrees but as we can see currently there are large segments of the population who never try.


Sure, here's Politico's Quint Forgey quoting the Director of National Intelligence that the laptop (source of the emails) is in the FBI's possession and that it is authentically Hunter's: https://twitter.com/QuintForgey/status/1318166732419235841

Here's Fox saying the same thing, quoting a Federal Law Enforcement Official: https://twitter.com/SeanLangille?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcam...

Here's a signed MacBook Repair quote from 4/2019, signed by Hunter Biden: https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/hunter%20bi...

And here's the NYPost article itself, excerpts included:

`Biden wrote that Ye had sweetened the terms of an earlier, three-year consulting contract with CEFC that was to pay him $10 million annually “for introductions alone.”`

`"Consulting fees is one piece of our income stream but the reason this proposal by the chairman was so much more interesting to me and my family is that we would also be partners inn [sic] the equity and profits of the JV’s [joint venture’s] investments."`

`The documents obtained by The Post also include an “Attorney Engagement Letter” executed in September 2017 in which one of Ye’s top lieutenants, former Hong Kong government official Chi Ping Patrick Ho, agreed to pay Biden a $1 million retainer for “Counsel to matters related to US law and advice pertaining to the hiring and legal analysis of any US Law Firm or Lawyer.`

https://nypost.com/2020/10/15/emails-reveal-how-hunter-biden...

This family is so corrupt it's not even funny. That's not even including the Burisma scandal, which was disgusting in its own right.


This is the problem with getting your information from Twitter. You're taking a public statement from a political appointee whose boss very badly needs an attack angle and generalizing it without cause. We know that the non-partisan staff have been telling Congress and the public that there are Russian attempts to influence the election[1,2] involving some of the people in this story[3].

This matters because you're taking a single very specific claim as proof an entire story. The DNI made a very specific denial that Hunter Biden's laptop is not part of a Russian disinformation campaign — we don't know what level of certainty the analysts have that this was actually Biden's laptop, that the data on it wasn't modified after it left Biden's control, that he wasn't fine parsing this being a disinformation campaign run by anyone other than the Russian government, or that the emails presented in the NY Post story are authentic and complete.

Continuing the trend, there's a conservative media figure citing unnamed officials with uncorroborated claims. We don't know how well informed they are, what conflicts of interest they have, etc. but we do know that their chain of command has a number of people who have significant personal investment in a particular election result. This is why anything involving politically sensitive claims really needs to be done as openly as possible since history is full of examples of various ways officials have mislead the public.

Similarly, you are presenting as proof a JPEG on a conservative blog showing two signatures which aren't close matches and have none of the provenance you'd need to demonstrate that similarities aren't due to one of them being a forgery based on the public record. Even if the receipt was authentic, that tells you he dropped a Mac off, which could be part of but is not on its own sufficient to say that the data came from that Mac.

I mention all of this because it's how the process works: you're convinced that Biden is corrupt because the sources you read presented some nice juicy headlines and just enough plausible details to underpin all of those conclusions. If you remember Guccifer 2.0, one of the best ways to make a forgery seem more realistic is to put it in with legitimate but innocuous documents. The decision to sit on this story until close before an election but not release the data or an independent forensic report is exactly what you'd do in this case.

My suggestion that you look for the evidence is to put an upper bound on how confidently you should present that narrative as fact — for example, doesn't it seem interesting that this conversation about laptops is still missing any evidence that a meeting or conversation happened or that it involved anything more than a businessman wangling a handshake with a prominent global figure? It's certainly possible that Hunter Biden did something dodgy but I personally would wait to call his father corrupt without strong or, really, any evidence of that. Similarly, the NY Post story repeated the long-debunked claim about VP Biden having tried to get a prosecutor fired for investigating Burisma — that certainly doesn't mean that the rest of the story is completely wrong but it does call into question how much a wise reader should trust the story without further corroboration.

1. https://www.dni.gov/index.php/newsroom/press-releases/item/2...

2. https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/07/politics/us-intelligence-russ...

3. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/15/us/politics/giuliani-russ...


Your #1 and #2 links simply indicate a general assessment of several foreign entities including China, Russia, Iran and their general attitudes towards the candidates (it also indicates China, our number one threat strategically, militarily, technologically, democratically, medically, prefers Biden). No doubt they are all trying to influence the U.S. election. None of that has anything to do with the damning evidence of Hunter Biden selling access to his father for millions of dollars.

I linked to professional staffers on Twitter from Politico and Fox. They're not random contributors, they're journalists and they're quoting specific government officials.

At any rate, I know, neither journalists nor government officials have a very good reputation these days, but you asked for evidence, and I provided that, along with photo evidence of Hunter's signature on the laptop repair ticket, which matches the Paternity suit signature filed by Hunter's baby mama in Arkansas last year. It's the same RHB (Robert Hunter Biden) signature. I don't know what to tell you. Look again.

The laptop had incriminating photos of Hunter smoking crack. Those photos were published. Where else would they have come from? Also, the dates on the emails match up with Secret Service travel logs from 2014: https://www.theepochtimes.com/secret-service-travel-logs-mat...

I'm convinced Biden is corrupt, because power corrupts. That's an almost universal law of human nature. And Biden had power for 47 years. You cannot be a part of that scene for that long without corruption rubbing off on you. After a while, you start to think you're invincible. Especially if the media covers for you. Conservatives don't have that benefit. They're always under far more scrutiny than liberals, because over 90% of journalists are liberal and they don't cover Democrats the same way. They spent 3 years on a fake Russian scandal against Trump. Spent $50 million+ and wasted the nation's time based on some DNC paid for propaganda hit piece by a washed up ex-MI6 agent. And the media spent 3 years breathlessly covering every "bombshell" report only to come up with nothing.

Again, there is signatures, emails, photos, and witnesses on the Biden story and you had a made up tabloid story that dominated news coverage on Trump for THREE YEARS.


> Conservatives don't have that benefit. They're always under far more scrutiny than liberals, because over 90% of journalists are liberal and they don't cover Democrats the same way. They spent 3 years on a fake Russian scandal against Trump. Spent $50 million+ and wasted the nation's time based on some DNC paid for propaganda hit piece by a washed up ex-MI6 agent.

This is a great example of what happens when you uncritically seek out information which satisfies your political biases without thinking about it critically. I’m sure you do believe what you wrote above because people you trust have told you to do so, but wishing doesn’t mean that it’s true.

For example, do you really expect anyone to believe there’s a global “the media” with uniform beliefs spanning everyone from the BBC and NPR to Fox News and The Guardian? Want to try using evidence to show that, say, journalists were covering for Hillary Clinton during the previous election? (Or for the amusing belief that they’re covering for Biden now by totally not covering this other than all of the hundreds of stories running about it?)

Your mischaracterization of the Russia investigation similarly shows that you’re only reading sources friendly to the subjects. There were multiple sources, none of them the Steele dossier, and it certainly found a lot more than nothing – all facts you’ve had easily available to learn for years but have either chosen not to or are at least hoping your readers have not:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossfire_Hurricane_(FBI_inves...

https://www.justice.gov/storage/report_volume1.pdf

https://www.justice.gov/storage/report_volume2.pdf

I’m not going to waste time further responding to someone acting in bad faith but don’t think I wasn’t amused by you going from claiming that a major multi-government intelligence investigation was a “made up tabloid story” while at the same time complaining that people are calling for verification of a tabloid story.


Thanks for the links, but if you click on them you'll see they don't support your claims at all.


In contemporary American politics, "filter bubbles" that suppress facts--as opposed to providing a slanted interpretation of the meaning of facts--are exclusively a product of conservative politics.

If there was concrete evidence of malfeasance involving either Biden, actual media outlets (NYT, WaPo, CNN, ABC, CBS, etc) would report on it. They might downplay it, but they would report it.

In contrast, conservative media gleefully provides politically motivated "alternative facts[0]" -- more properly known as 'lies'[1] -- and fails to report on stories that are politically harmful to conservatives. Conservative media is not intended to inform; it is intended to keep people ignorant of actual, objective, facts.[2]

Has your filter bubble told you that Trump was impeached specifically for attempting to blackmail the Ukrainian government into framing Biden?

Has your filter bubble told you that this kind of conduct is not normal in a democracy?

Just because conservative media lies to people to further a political objective does not mean that the entire media ecosystem is equally bad.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_facts

[1] https://www.politifact.com/article/2015/jan/29/punditfact-ch...

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2011/11/21/fox-news-v...


You'd kind of hope that it's apolitical and solid enough that that wouldn't happen? Launching it right now makes it more political.


The issue I see there is the Democratic establishment is pro-corporate before anything else. So yeah, if Biden is elected, this will never have seen the light of day.


The Democratic establishment is more pro-corporate than the Republican establishment? In what reality is this. Like I don't get where this idea comes from that you have to be pro-business or anti-business. I can be both pro-worker and pro-business, it's not black and white, it's shades of gray.


> The Democratic establishment is more pro-corporate than the Republican establishment?

It depends on the company in question.

And, yes, Republicans right now are much more likely to be skeptical of Silicon Valley giants than are Democrats, who have been very cozy with Democrats since 2008.


> And, yes, Republicans right now are much more likely to be skeptical of Silicon Valley giants than are Democrats

That wasn't the claim raised or addressed.


The biggest and most powerful corporations in the world right now are tech companies, of which Republicans are increasingly skeptical and with which Democrats are increasingly cozy. So of course it's relevant to a question about how Democrats could be seen as pro-corporate.


> The biggest and most powerful corporations in the world right now are tech companies,

Not even close to true. JP Morgan, ExxonMobil, Citi, Chevron, ATT, Comcast,, Walmart, GE, GM, Berkshire Hatahway, Pfizer, Johnson & Jhonson... I could go on. Yes, Apple, MS, FB, Google are huge tech companies, but they are not the most common and not by any means "the most powerful".


The most clear and objective way to compare corporations is market capitalization, and the seven corporations with the biggest market cap in the world are all tech companies.[1]

How powerful a company is a bit harder to judge, but if anything tech companies punch above their weight when it comes to political power. Johnson & Johnson has ten times the market cap of twitter, but much less political power.

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


The difference is none of the companies you listed have the same amount of control over the internet. SV giants are the new gatekeepers of information.


Exactly. Those companies are more of a "you buy things from them" than the "your knowledge and view of the world is filtered through it" of Google. Google yields tremendous power over people just by what results it shows them when they search for things.


But a better alternative to measure power could be lobbying efforts and spending, which the tech companies are lagging in.


... do you actually believe that?

AT&T is more powerful than Google?

Johnson & Johnson is more powerful than Apple?


> I can be both pro-worker and pro-business

That's exactly what a establishment Democrat would say.


You're a libertarian, aren't you? Frankly, business's interests and worker interests are fundamentally at odds solely because labor is so expensive and having to accommodate workers' needs is expensive.

In what reality are you living in that Obama didn't give corporate America billions of dollars in hand-outs in the aftermath of 2008? Republicans aren't any better, but Democrats like to pretend they care about workers, when all they really care about is enriching the wealthy.


In my, and many realities, the Democratic and Republican establishments are the same establishment.


Not wanting to destroy your countries industries and creating a balance between workers and businesses is not the same as believing that today's large businesses are over regulated and workers have too much power.

If you are anti-capitalist, fine, but your complaint isn't the Dems are pro-business, the argument is that they are still capitalists.


Honestly, America is pro-corporate before anything else - neither party is actually a good advocate for labour or consumer protection, you only see these things on the fringes of the parties.


Adminstrations changing priorities is legitimate. Just ask Bill Bar when he's trying to do favors for the president.


Sure, especially when the corporations being scrutinized donate to their election campaign.


I doubt it. The democrats want this too. However, Biden would have much more likely listened to his advisors rather than this case where no doubt Trump is throwing stuff at the wall hoping it sticks and helps him with the election. Most people are probably in favor of holding Google's feet to the fire.


> Just before an election?

It's very obvious that's the whole point.


It's a rare moment of bipartisanship.


Many DOJ attorneys resigned from this case in protest

Wouldn't this give Barr the opportunity to bring in people who always agree with him and make the situation worse? Not just this case against Google, but in general.


Yes, but that doesn't mean the case will gain the approval of judges. Of course, this is why the current administration has worked very hard to place as many judges as possible on the federal courts, but since federal judges hold lifetime appointments they sometimes develop an unexpected degree of independent thought once they land on a suitably comfortable bench and fail to please their erstwhile patrons, instead pursuing the respect of their judicial peers or their legacy.

There's an interview where Barr is asked about his legacy that's worth looking up, it's a great example of the conflict between short-term expediency and long-term sustainability.


> Since federal judges hold lifetime appointments they sometimes develop an unexpected degree of independent thought once they land on a suitably comfortable bench and fail to please their erstwhile patrons, instead pursuing the respect of their judicial peers or their legacy.

Isn't there a contradiction between independent thought and pursing the respect of their judicial peers?

> There's an interview where Barr is asked about his legacy that's worth looking up, it's a great example of the conflict between short-term expediency and long-term sustainability.

I think you're referring to him saying "everybody dies", and you take this as short-term expediency? I don't agree. I think it's a statement of independence: I will not be manipulated by the people who write "the first draft of history", I'll do what I think is right.


Resigned from the case, but not resigned from the dept?

When you argue a case in court, you have to be a "zealous advocate" meaning you have to believe what you're arguing. I don't think a lawyer even employed by Justice Dept. can be compelled to argue a specific case.

Of course he can probably cook up whatever reason to fire them.

edit: in case it wasn't obvious, IANAL - thanks for clarifications


Attorneys argue positions they do not agree with or believe in all the time. Their job is to represent their client and bring about the best case possible, in the interests of a system designed to be adversarial.

The concept of “zealous advocacy” is such a minor part of the ABA’s Rules of Professional Conduct to begin with. Attorneys just like to use that one term as an excuse to be assholes, while forgetting the myriad of other ethical requirements in the Rules.

While I commend them for taking a stand, they should absolutely be fired for failing to refusing to represent their client, aka the Federal government. They have effectively terminated their relationship with the client and should no longer be representing them.

In fact, the first footnote in Rule 1.3 (where the text for “zeal with advocacy” occurs outside the preamble), it reads:

“[1] A lawyer should pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer, and take whatever lawful and ethical measures are required to vindicate a client's cause or endeavor.”

For private attorneys, you refuse to represent your client on ethical grounds, you do not get to continue billing them. Not sure why it should be any different here.


They're not private attorneys who have the US as their client. They work for an organization (DoJ) that has the US as its client. That organization can have whatever policies it wants about how cases are allocated among its staff.


Yes, I am fully aware that they are not private attorneys. I am also aware that Federal employment laws are unlikely to support firing them on account of recusing themselves from a case.

However, that does not mean the ABA's Rules of Professional Conduct do not apply to them, nor does it mean they should not be fired for choosing to terminate representation of their client.

It sets a terrible precedent in a system that is designed to have someone willing to fight on each side for their client. If the government wants to bring about a weak case, let them. The opposing party has their own representation point out those weaknesses, if that is truly the case.

So whether they can be fired or not, doesn't change the fact that they should be, or that they should resign from the Department.


> Their job is to represent their client and bring about the best case possible

To be clear, the current issue is not that they do or don't believe the case on its merits, but that they don't believe they have enough time to push the best case possible.


Fair enough, but I think that reasoning is akin to a public defender saying they won’t defend their client because they are overworked and didn’t have enough time to prepare. Someone else is still going to have to do it, only now they will have even less time to prepare.

There are legal processes that can be used to continue trials and other hearings, which they’re fully aware of. Their client said to go, it is not their job to decide when, only to offer advice against such a decision (in theory).


It's more like the public defender's boss is deciding when to schedule the trial, and deliberately schedules it before their performance review instead of scheduling it to improve the chance that the case is successful.


I’m not sure how that example negates what I said. Regardless of the circumstances as to why a case is tried sooner than you would like, it’s still happening. Sometimes it is a judge, sometimes it is a boss, sometimes it is a strategic maneuver by opposing counsel, etc. That doesn’t make it an acceptable excuse to not represent their client’s interests given the time they do have, nor does it make the decision any less impactful to the client they represent.


> When you argue a case in court, you have to be a "zealous advocate" meaning you have to believe what you're arguing.

This is most certainly not true.


I guess it is a difficult position to be in, especially in the current administration. If you leave, you know your replacement is likely going to be unqualified, yes men. If you stay, you conscience will bother you and you won't be able to do much good anyway.


That is the modus operandi of this entire Administration. Trump has fired advisors and cabinet over and over until almost all the current positions are filled with yes men and women or not filled at all and just have people holding the position and maintaining status quo.


We've been waiting for them to build a strong case for several years. It will likely take several more for it to work its way through the courts. At some point the interests of the public in having a timely curb to Google's actions outweighs the value of preparing a perfect case.


Also, as I understand it (not a lawyer, just listening to law students), this filing’s purpose is to establish a prima-facia case. There aren’t really many ‘arguments’ as to why Section 2 of the USC 15 has been violated, this is just trying to convince a judge to hear the case.

I’d wait until the judge agrees to hear the case and cases are cited to really make any predictions. The cited case law will set the first odds. It feels too early to cast lots.


The ones who resigned didn't happen to have their own political motivations as well? These cases always have plenty of time and areas for arguments refined.

I can't read anything with politicized names and highly question the perfectly placed PRified counter points.

The truth, aka middle ground (if such a thing even exists anymore), is the hardest thing to come by these days. Lawyers working for a gov agency are the least reputable in this area in my books.


> at the cost of its strength, causes the complaint to fail, it'll probably be the last antitrust case against Google we'll see for some time.

The conspiracy theorist in me says this was on purpose. Barr isn't rushing this case before the election to make it look like they're doing something, they're rushing it to sabotage any future attempts to rein in Google.


Thanks for the input. I had assumed they'd been working on this behind the scenes for awhile. I should have realized with the current administration one should never believe that best practices were being practiced.


You're reading a whole lot into this single sentence in the article:

> Some lawyers in the department worry that Mr. Barr’s determination to bring a complaint this month could weaken their case and ultimately strengthen Google’s hand, according to interviews with 15 lawyers who worked on the case or were briefed on the department’s strategy.


15 lawyers expressed concern ... just because it's contained in a single sentence doesn't mean he's reading a lot into it. It's an important sentence.


It says "some" lawyers expressed concern, according to interviews with 15 of them. Nothing about that sentence alleges that all 15 they spoke with expressed concern. Some could be 2 or 3 and all 15 were aware of the concern.


Barr is going to have his pick of Board seats in 2021.


Yep.

I doubt not Google has a very competent legal team.


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