I’d be seriously ashamed at this point if I was a Google employee assigned to AMP.
That's it. Webmasters should give all visitors with a Chrome user agent a loading penalty of 1 second and a popup saying that the website runs faster on Firefox.
I said it before on HN, but the idea was condemned, and I partially agreed, but now it seems (at least to me) a fully justifiable strategy to make users win back power.
Throttling based on user agent (Firefox, WebKit Safari, etc) would be a bad thing if you ran YouTube and wanted to encourage people to use Chrome - it would likewise be bad if you ran a website like HN.
Users have power when they have control - Google is taking that away, and that's why antitrust legislation makes sense. But users lose power when their choice of browser (in a market where there are only 2-3 choices) makes their web experience artificially worse.
Also, the campaign can stop when Chrome and Firefox reach an equal user-base. So "the user losing freedom of choice of browser" is also not a strong argument.
Yes, it's sad that this seems necessary, but you can't fight corporate evilness with just goodwill. In a sense, this is somewhat similar to the paradox of tolerance .
it's for ads:
> Google throttles the load time of non-AMP ads by giving them artificial one-second delays
so would need to limit the +1 second for ads to be equivalent, but you could just run "ads" for ad blockers instead :)
It started as a 1-second delay for all ads, but then they found a technical way to allow for ads made with AMP to load sooner.
"No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood." 
I won't ever use tiktok, and speak against it to friends and family when questioned. I support the use of Signal and promote basic digital literacy, lending my time to help people learn about encryption and protecting their personal information, even in seemingly trivial things like not playing quiz games on social media.
I don't believe in a monolithic big brother spying on individuals, but there is a collective impact of all of those systems, if which Google Amp plays a big part. It normalized the idea that centralizing the gateways to content was a good thing, regardless of Google's intentions. It usurped control of a minor piece of web functionality that gave Google a big competitive advantage.
People have been commoditized by getting them to give up private data without understanding what it is they're giving up. At a very basic level, you could look at Facebook - they have 3 billion members and make 30 billion dollars a year - someone's data is worth $10usd per year on average. Similar valuations can be applied to other companies, but Google is getting around $150 billion a year for advertising. If you could assign a weight to people, some would be worth far more than others, and even entirely boring and innocent profiles are damaging to consumers, because they're providing baselines that enable further and more nuanced manipulation.
It's such an insidious and subtle injury to society that getting people to even notice litigation like this suit is difficult. Getting them to care, when the attitude of "I've got nothing to hide" is hugely demoralizing to people who do care.
Gross anticompetitive actions are a part of the problem, but the reckless use of algorithms that influence exposure to information, its context, and its timing is a huge, hairy deal, but even amongst techies it's hard to communicate why.
We are collectively wireheading in a way the majority of humans don't have the knowledge or education to recognize as dangerous. The knock-on effects are sometimes many degrees of separation from any single company's actions or behavior, and there doesn't have to be a human in the loop for the algorithms to poison the future of a society.
The agency of individuals is stolen by systems like Amp - a drop in the digital flood that is drowning liberty and sovereignty. It creates a system that gets abused for profit or politics or ideology. It reinforces the arms race in surveillance technology, but a vast majority of people are content with the idea that they have nothing to hide, not realizing that they are choosing to grant control over the information they will be allowed to consume anywhere within the ecosystem they engaged with.
FAANG's actions subtly influence the behavior of billions of humans. Innocuous and trite misbehavior on their part gets amplified far beyond what anyone would predict, and we have almost nothing in human history to measure against. These institutions have to be held to a higher standard, and societies all over the world must work to make private information a resource entirely and absolutely controlled by the user.
When I moved to the bay area working at FB/Google was something I held in high regard and was a career goal of mine. Now I get hit up by recruiters from them often... and I don't message them back. It hurts thinking about how much money I leave on the table by not working there, but I just don't think if I could live with myself if I became a contributing member of their dystopian nightmare machine.
It all starts with the people who work there. If you work at google or facebook, you're part of it. You're culpable. It's not like I don't understand the calculus and not like the right dollar amount wouldn't corrupt my position as well, but I wish more people were honest/forthright about it. You're a storm trooper.
symbolic action is always easy. but you're asking them to strike (refuse to work) in response to unethical demands, without the collective backing of their peers, in an industry that views union activity with - at best - suspicion or outright derision. we all like to fancy that we'd be the ones to refuse to play along but the reality is that when it's you and your job and you're facing the possibility of not paying rent or eating food after being blacklisted from the industry in response to your actions...
don't judge the people who are doing what they have to in order to survive. they were compelled by people who had leverage over them and our ire should be for those people.
We are not talking about some poor sod blue collar worker here. We are talking about techworkers with 6 figure salaries who can get a job anywhere. No one is asking them to start some movement. They can simply think: "I don't want to be a part of this", leave the job and get a new job that same day.
> don't judge the people who are doing what they have to in order to survive. they were compelled by people who had leverage over them and our ire should be for those people.
Tech workers with 6 figure salaries who can get a job pretty much anywhere they like are doing these things to survive? Seriously...? Google had leverage over these people? How?
How many minimum wage employees does Google have in the Bay Area? We’re talking about a class of six figure employees here.
Like he said, you’re a storm trooper, just own it.
They're collectively pressing buttons and breaking things in the global psychology, influencing the zeitgeist in a way that no one person or company intends. Obama's campaign was the first major successful political use of that infrastructure and there's an argument to be made that Trump's election was enabled by it. Cambridge Anallytica exposed some of the controls and showed a portion of what can be done, but we haven't seen the worst yet. International troll farms, the recent infiltration of Christian and BLM Twitter and reddit, and so on.
When people are profiled by advanced algorithms, and access to people given based on those profiles, that access can be made completely transparent using deanonymizing methods through data from other sources. Any and every platform, forum, and community becomes exposed to hostile, unintended influence.
We need outsized fines that protect private data as if it were sacred such that a trillion dollar company would fear even a single violation. Such that violating privacy would result in individuals going bankrupt or prison time. Such that physically bombing a foreign datacenter would be seen as reasonable recourse if they were uncooperative.
There are things that no government or private organization should have absent the informed consent of users because of the implicit danger to society's basic functioning.
I selected all my previous companies because they seemed to have a worthy mission from the outside. Each disappointed me immensely. At startup scale you have to see the sausage be made or at least sit next to it.
I know big tech companies have too much power because every other company I’ve worked at would be most accurately described as an unscrupulous Rube Goldberg machine for moving money from VCs to ads+cloud.
Do what works for you, but don’t be so sure you’re engaging in a “better” way with this late-capitalist hellscape. I feel so much better aligned getting paid by big tech to build cool tools for engineers than I did getting paid to knife fight for their scraps.
Seriously, cut the drama. Amazon fulfillment workers can say they are "getting paid to knife fight for their scraps.". There is no way that statement needs to apply to tech workers.
It sounds as if you are forgetting there is a world outside silicon valley, startups and fortune 500 companies. In most countries SMB's account for almost 50% of the economy.
> I feel so much better aligned getting paid by big tech to build cool tools for engineers
Well thats actually an honest statement; You want money, cool toys and these outweigh any moral concerns with big tech.
The company before that overrode all engineering complaints and implemented call to cancel because it made money. My boss had to do it himself.
Both companies competed in a way not unlike a knife fight, meaning throw ethics out the window and pull every lever you can think of. Both had very few happy customers, and rolled every penny into ads and cloud spend, operating at a sickening loss despite locking b2b customers into large monthly contracts.
This is my experience in the industry. The company before that didn’t even pay me and jerked me around about options that weren’t worth anything anyway.
Your response seems quite uncharitable. I mentioned getting paid on both sides, so yes it’s important. I would like to retire some day and live in modest comfort until then. I have young children and happily live in the sf bay.
I said nothing about cool toys. I like that I get to work on a passion project that will likely be open source some day. I like that my customers are engineers and that they chat with me directly.
Generally speaking, if a company isn’t doing every legal (and possibly illegal but unlikely to be enforced) thing to gain competitive advantage, it will be out competed. It is the responsibility of the government to keep the laws up to date.
Companies are not good. They can sometimes be owned by people who are willing to sacrifice profits for warm fuzzy feelings, but that’s an unstable position that will be corrected when ownership changes.
I feel secure knowing I work for a company that turns a large profit and has already pulled all the levers available to them to make more. Less nasty surprises that way.
Private companies have a much better chance of actually following those missions(at least if not struggling). At a minimum, not as many incentives are aligned against you.
I feel we are massivelly overrating the level of governance, competence and ability to manage our overall "success" as modern societies
This was already quite evident with the financial crisis and came down as a hammer with the pandemic crisis and the ultimate dead-end of the climate crisis.
The denerate, dystopic, digital universe we have evolved into is not perceived as a systemic crisis. Massive data breaches are normalized. The obvious manipulation and influence of political processess the world over are shrugged off. The feudalization of economic life is portrayed as desirable "disruption". But it is really a slow moving car crash and there is no indication we have mechanisms to steer away from the deterministic outcome.
Ironically, it is almost certain that better governance would have to be based on suitable digital tools and networks. There is an alternate Philip K. Dick universe out there but we need some magic quantum tunnel to get to it.
It's clear that Chrome must be separated from Google and Alphabet, nothing else will stop them from trying to colonize the web.
Where did you read that? I was under the impression that SXG is more similar to things like IPFS, where you can have content signed by its origin (or in IPFS, content addressed by its hash). Once that is achieved, any other site (e.g. a CDN like Google or Cloudflare) can cache and serve it securely and with authentication.
You can sign whatever content you want with SXG, it isn't limited to AMP.
Or advocate for open alternatives, use Firefox, and make sure any site you build (or you build at work) work perfectly in non Chrome browsers.
Only because we let them. We gave them web domination, we the nerds told everyone and their mother to install Chrome so they do out of habit now.
We sit and watch while Google bend the web to their will with AMP and dozens of non standard specs everyone hurriedly tries to support while we come up with excuses like "it faster", "the dev tools in chrome are better".
Without a monopolistic marketshsre we give them they can't do this as easily.
Go install Firefox and make it your default browser. Or just carry on using Chrome and wonder why Google keep getting away with doing antisocial, anti consumer shit.
This works because they have such a large market share. It's a chicken/egg problem. Switching to Firefox is the best most of us can do to achieve the goal of "getting people to stop following Google's leadership on all things web."
Yes, supporting other browsers is a given, but did you want to say "and advocate"? Advocating for alternatives alone will achieve close to nothing when you are faced with a cartel, regulatory action is desperately needed in this industry.
These tactics, similar to deliberately introduced incompatibilities or performance differences, are old hat. For example, through the 90's, third party software for Windows never ran as smoothly as software issued by Microsoft. It was not the same "user experience". So long as this sort of conduct remains "legal", these companies interpret that as permission to engage in it.
I cancelled my evernote subscription because it is too slow to start up. If I need to access a note on my phone, I don't want it to take perceived time, because then I have to go through the effort of remembering what I am trying to write.
I have switched to Apple notes, which seem to get this.
“Oh, that’ll load in the blink of an eye! Only as much latency as the blink of an eye!” etc
It was damn frustrating to try and explain to these clowns that things look like crap if you pile up 2+ blinks of an eye on top of them. In the case of VR, even one “blink of an eye” is about 10x too much delay
So ad blocking makes everything faster!
How does this allow for header bidding? Anything needed could be done in page or with a connection that delays the response until some condition is met.
The browser adding an artificial delay seems like it's just a way for the browser to control the process, and when the browser is controlled by an ad network, that makes me very suspicious as to the motives for an artificial delay.
From an older discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25448718
Google has to be broken up.
Normally when the attorneys general of Kentucky and South Dakota put their heads together about something, the rest of us point and laugh. But when they put together a document that looks like the top 1000 most-unhinged HN comments from users like `ocdtrekkie`, critical thinking gets thrown under a bus and it's 100% pure credulity.
I don't work for Google nor own Google stocks, but among the things I am afraid of Google using its position to capture a bit too much of the ad-market is among the least of those, and that is ultimately what all these accusations boils down to. User data is for ads, these anti-competitive practices are for ads etc. If ads is the peak of their evil then I'd say they aren't terribly evil.
Google's biggest sin was to sit in the way of news media profits, that caused a barrage of articles written by news media companies targeted at them. I'd say that is evidence of news media being evil, not Google being evil.
Google has offices in China.
I agree that the "don't be evil" part of Google has mostly run out, but some of the effects are still there or Google would already be operating in China just like Apple or Microsoft. So until they do operate services in China I'll say that they aren't more evil than Microsoft or Apple who do operate services in China.
My argument is basically: Over the past 10 years Google has made great strides towards becoming as evil as a typical big corporation. They are about there today, not sure if they are there or just soon to be, but they are certainly not significantly more evil than the other big corporations.
Apple certainly gets complaints for their cooperation with the CCP and for their CCP-sponsored censorship in China, HK, and abroad. You can search my HN comments on Algolia and see that I've complained about it plenty of times before.
Consider posting something like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28977462, which inspired a lot of sub comments and a good on topic discussion, vs yours, which produced “haha Kentucky and South Dakota”, “Microsoft/Apple bad”, “gigantic evil news cabal”, and “HN is dumb”.
I dislike AMP because the UX is bad and Google strong armed it in the news carousel anyways instead of focusing on performance for all sites, but this would be a lot more convincing with the source emails entered into the record.
edit: and this is just talking about ad content, right? Unless somehow a publisher made their entire page blocked until the page's ads load, throttling the load of ads would just make the ads load slower. And from what cletus quotes in another comment:
This is not an editorial document, it’s a legal complaint by the Attorneys General of 17 U.S. states and commonwealths demanding a jury trial (among other things). The allegations are unproven at this point. The demanded trial process (discovery, examination, etc.) is what will provide the evidence.
One way or another though, we’re going to see if all of these claims are true. It just will take some time.
It's definitely both, they know their audience is not limited to the court. Performative filings by attorneys general happen all the time, and being able to set the narrative and put the other party on the defensive is absolutely part of this process, for good or bad.
While I agree that Google is anticompetitive, I don't think that specific detail gives as much weight as you think it does (or indeed should). The courts have had a notoriously bad history with understanding tech, and being part of a formal legal process is only weak evidence that a complaint has merit.
It seems to me this is yet another validation that Google is an ad sales company hell bent on preventing competition, controlling the market and lying to end users and integrators. All of these pieces are adding up - what was conjecture is finally being validated and I, personally, believe that Google is not in it for the good of the customer, but are only in it for a profit. Death to Google by thousands of cuts like this? Game on.
I've said it before, sales organizations only base performance on profit. It is the toxin that defines all of this misbehaviour. Nobody "thinks" they're doing anything wrong because it's talked about as benefiting the shareholder. Google isn't immune to this.
That's just what I mean. There's a tiny amount of validation and a lot of rhetoric. It would be preferable to be able to see the actual sources they're quoting from.
Google has an army of the best in legal and part of their play is limiting this information from ever being seen. I'm curious, what would be enough validation to pass your sniff test? And are you saying you think this is being overblown?
From my first post:
> but this would be a lot more convincing with the source emails entered into the record
The pdf that this page links to includes much more than two sentence fragments on the topic.
>Internally, Google employees grappled with “how to
[publicly] justify [Google] making something slower.”
Could be more, or less interesting, when the actual source document is published.
There's some more detail in a highly redacted document here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/ima...
"In Google’s words, the [redacted] program
[redacted]. Next, Google
tried to come up with other creative ways to shut out competition from exchanges in header
bidding. During one internal debate, a Google employee proposed a [redacted].
A second employee captured Google’s ultimate aim of
destroying header bidding altogether, noting in response that [redacted]"
So from a probably naive view, getting rid of header bidding seems like it would be faster, not slower. Is the assertion being made that it isn't faster and it just so happens to also enrich the ad network?
The sequence was first employee probably said something like "make it slower if they aren't on AMP", and the second employee made some kind of suggestion to kill it altogether.
I think this gives us a timestamp on when Google got there.
Yeah it seems bizarre that they would try to hold on to that big of growth and not moderate it if this is the method to get it because there's no way it can be sustainably grown for long, but I guess if you're a VP only focused on this quarter's goals and the bonus you'll get out of it, it doesn't really much matter if growth craters a year or two out. You can cash out long before then.
They do often say "My bonuses are tied to growth, and my management is putting extreme pressure on me to deliver something that's impossible, and I don't see any way of delivering it in the expected time... so I'm going to do it the only way I see."
Can someone who has a better understand of legal proceedings explain what purpose these redactions serve?
wow i love when Silicon Valley literally throws away people's time. imagine the cumulative total time being wasted by this artificial delay...
our society ?->?
Unless, of course, the team leadership was on it and this was an insider job.
Whether front line engineers knew isn't that important. AMP Leadership definitely did.
did they though? couldn't this be a small (artificial delay) library injected server side by some higher ups at Google?
> Google ad server employees met with AMP employees to strategize about using AMP to impede header bidding, addressing in particular how much pressure publishers and advertisers would tolerate.
I think it’s easier to believe that the AMP team was simply naive, or willfully blind to the implications, or they didn’t care (probably all 3; teams are big enough that there’s room for all).
I think part of it was that the AMP team members were active here, and seemed genuine and competent. I'm somewhat curious how much they knew. This delay thing wasn't the only terrible part of AMP. The initial banner with the [x] button that sent you back to Google was terrible. As is the still-present hijacking of swipes and back button behavior on other people's content.
I did an Algolia comment search and can see my AMP rants getting more traction over a 4 year period.
Edit: I think it also had defenders because it forced sites like news organizations to re-think their 20MB+ ad and tracker laden story pages. So it wasn't all bad.
This was mainly it. Modern basically-just-text-content sites are hilariously bloated and slow, and this seemed like a genuine attempt to fix it. I remember I defended it for those reasons. It didn't pan out that way, though.
Also, I definitely remember AMP critics, or at least skeptics, getting plenty of upvotes from the very beginning, I'm not sure it was that hard to criticize.
Webdevs moaned because it restricted what they could do, which is partially why I liked it. They had to build a page that was fast, rather than fancy.
However I do see the downsides, as google owns the stack, limits your choice.
Also is doesn't help for dynamic search. The main situation I'm thinking of is I'm on moble searching for something thats hosted by a local news site. the AMP page generally loads in <2 seconds. The original page will take 5 megs of data, and ages to load.
100% totally decentralized.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but my interpretation of this ticket is that Google's AMP validator currently does not validate self-hosted JS, which means no special handling ("acceleration") on their search results.
I assumed that the non-amp websites were slower due to the JS bloat, I still despise what the Web pages has become, however it turns out Google wasn't a honest broker here and instead of providing a tool that helps them and the users, they provided a tool that helps them and harms the users and bullies the website owners. That's evil and drains the last bits of trust I had left for Google.
In Australia, AMP pages load slower, not faster.
AMP breaks the iPhone Safari user interface, by not actually scrolling the whole page.
The URLs don't represent the actual site to which the user will navigate.
App-integrated links don't work properly.
And on and on.
AMP is a cancer on the web enforced by a monopoly for their own shady purposes.
In addition to scrolling, the other thing which people noticed was that AMP broke the URL for sharing. This had several outcomes: one was that desktop users often got less usable mobile pages but the other was that it made spoofing easier because people trusted the google.com domain. This was used by fake news sites in the 2016 election cycle and at least the Russian government used it to spearphish investigative journalists.
They knew all of those risks in advance — and people accurately predicted them in 2015 – and the stated motivation was hard to reconcile with how much less work it would have taken to see the performance benefits by simply incorporating speed into search rankings at a high weight; this suggests that theories about the goal of controlling third-party ad markets were correct.
Luckily it wasn't a big problem, since Google also intentionally gimped the search results to an old mobile version when using Fx, so one didn't get amp links.
I guess this is my reminder to mention once again that using a Chrome useragent on FF mobile gets you better search results. It's one of the extensions you can download on FF for Android right now, in fact.
It clearly isn't only techies that dislike it so much that they actually pay to get rid of AMP.
Anyway, the AMP experience was a fresh breath in the world of 10-20 seconds webpage loading times. You see the lightning icon, tap it and the content instantly comes. Swipe right and left to go through the other results and everything is displayed instantly, top notch experience - especially when Googling for stuff from the news websites.
I agree. It's one of the imperfections of the AMP. I like AMP for quickly skimming between the results and then load the original page if I find something lengthy ro read.
It also strips out all the crap the site's UX/UI people use to try and keep you on the site.
I think most non-techies have no idea what AMP is to begin with.
It's just, once again, "my phone is doing some annoying and unexpected shit I didn't ask for".
Anyone whos usually logged in somewhere is impacted negatively
1) Sharing AMP links is weird, feels wrong and Non-AMP links are hard to get
2) Breaks Safari's reader mode
3) Gives sub-par experience for websites that provide better experience when logged in since the AMP version is always the non-logged-in version.
None of those are deal-breaker for me because AMP pages come as a search results and fast loading results are very valuable for me when skimming to find the right one. Once I find it, I can switch to the full version(but Google makes it harder and harder. maybe this should be 4.).
- Left and right swipe events were hijacked, and sent the user to somebody else's website with a related story!
- The back button would go to Google, even if you had right or left swiped as described above...that is, non-google pages were not in the history.
Then, not just carousel pages, these applied to all AMP pages:
- A very tall banner at the top pushed your content down. It had an [x] button that would send you back to the google search rather than the expected behavior of removing the banner.
- Finding the real url was 2 clicks deep
> Google had a plan called "Project NERA" to turn the web into a walled garden they called "Not Owned But Operated". A core component of this was the forced logins to the chrome browser you've probably experienced (surprise!) 
This is classic 90s Microsoft playbook. Detangling the web from Google is getting harder and harder over time.
Worth noting that they have this ability today through HTTPS certificate management. The web increasingly moves to HTTPS (pushed by Google among others) and Google is also operating one of a small number of cert transparency logs - in addition to the Chrome browser.
If they don't like a site, they can blacklist the certificate in Chrome - to cut it off from Chrome users immediately - and block acceptance of new certificates from the CT log, which will cut off the site from other browsers once the current certificate expires.
However, I don’t think that Google is _that_ evil/willing to do so at this point.
"Google likes to claim that it will “never sell your personal information to anyone,” with Google CEO Sundar Pichai deceptively claiming that such a policy is “unequivocal.” But Google leverages intimate user data and personal information to broker billions of daily online ad impressions between publishers and advertisers that target individual users based almost entirely on their personal information. Internal documents confirm that Google knows its users are deceived by its misrepresentations, even as it reaps billions from ads that use personal data to target those users. In Orwellian terms, it’s a beautiful thing for Google, the destruction of words like “sell” and “personal.”"
"Google presents a public image of caring about privacy, but behind the scenes Google coordinates closely with the Big Tech companies to lobby the government to delay or destroy measures that would actually protect users’ privacy. Of course, effective competition is concerned with both price and quality, and the fact that Google coordinates with its competitors on the quality metric of privacy—one might call it privacy fixing—underscores Google’s selective promotion of privacy concerns only when doing so facilitates its efforts to exclude competition."
Yeah. These silly terms of service mean nothing to anyone. Even Google knows this! Almost nobody reads them. Those who do, won't understand them. Who can really consent to all this surveillance under these circumstances? This is NOT a deal between equal parties, the user is severely disadvantaged. People click the checkbox because it won't let them create an account otherwise. They don't have a choice.
Courts should just invalidate the contracts and start treating Google as if nobody consented to its exploitation. Apply heavy fines for every single user wronged.
After all there is much more money made in selling your attention repeatedly then there is in selling you data once.
The paragraph’s first sentence is supposed to insinuate that Google is lying about not selling people’s data, and the rest of the paragraph says that Google is not selling data. And then the last sentence makes a completely false claim using popular buzzwords.
What was the point of the paragraph, other than to invoke unnecessary emotions for no reason?
Is anyone harmed or anyone’s privacy violated even an ad buyer is allowed to choose to restrict ads to ad recipients likely to have certain characteristics?
That's the web advertising apparatus right now. Users are unaware of how much information about themselves they give up, and advertisers are happy to use that information to sell you stuff when you're most willing to buy it.
I personally find that manipulative and unethical, and I believe if it were outlined to the general public then they would also be pretty disgusted with the behavior.
I won't dispute that an actual privacy violation would be much worse, since a malicious actor can do more than advertise with real user data, but that doesn't make this scenario good either. For this particular purpose I don't think it matters if they have the real data or not.
There is quite a bit of difference in identifiable information about you being given to whoever wants to buy it, and giving someone the ability to show an ad to people of certain criteria.
I don't think it's accurate to liken ubiquitous tracking of almost everyone across all their devices, to be the same as targeted advertising from the past. It's an entirely new behavior on an enormous, society size scale. It's having tangible negative externalities, remembering that advertising doesn't just include product placements. So you get those negative effects even without the privacy violation.
I'm not trying to compare this with privacy violations, I'm more trying to argue that for the issue being discussed in the antitrust, the technicality that it's not a privacy violation doesn't actually change much except that it's not illegal. The issue still exists.
Disagree with the claim here. Certainly, Google is utilizing your personal information against you, but:
1. That's certainly not selling your personal info.
2. To make this argument, US states must concede that active commercial advertising has an aspect of harm and manipulation. I doubt any of them are actually willing to go ahead and adopt that position consistently.
Having said that... when we read Google's claim that
> it will “never sell your personal information to anyone”
let's also not forget that it's quite willing to give it for free to the US government, in bulk and forever.
So if we may agree that it is exploitive but not technically illegal, then I think we can reason that we are the edge of what is right to do and it's time to consider how to make the exploitive thing illegal.
> Giving advantageous ranking (including, but not limited to, showing AMP content in Top Stories) is the very definition of using your market power in one area (search) to force publishers to adopt something else you created.
> For a company that is (or should be) very careful about attracting antitrust attention from the US/EU, this seems completely reckless.
I've always hated AMP. Publishers are forced into it by the ranking advantages. Users have no opt out. It breaks the mobile UI (eg pinch to zoom). It's horrible.
There was a time when the idea wasn't terrible because a lot of websites were terrible and slow on mobile, somewhat ironically in no small part due to all the ad libraries they loaded.
But it was clear who benefitted the most here was actually Google. Now I always suspected that this was the result of some org trying to increase their impact.
If it turns out as the suit alleges:
Boy oh boy is that a problem. And again I'm going to say I called it.
The other damning part:
> The speed benefits Google marketed were also at least partly a result of Google’s throttling. Google throttles the load time of non-AMP ads by giving them artificial one-second delays in order to give Google AMP a “nice comparative boost.”
Wow. Just... wow.
Yes, and that time was the early 2000's, and the solution was not AMP but WAP. Google effectively re-invented WAP about 15 years after it was no longer necessary.
Before add-ons worked with Firefox mobile (and I could install ublock), browsing the web on a phone was awful. If i remember it was around the time that AMP launched in 2015 that Firefox mobile got add-on support. So there was certainly a problem more recently that 15 years ago.
The adverts on news sites were so bad that AMP was able to make mobile pages clearly better from a UX point of view. But that was largely a problem of Googles own making, and their "generous" fix was obviously stacked in their favour.
All users needed was the ability to install an ad-blocker on their mobile browser, but of course Google was never going to allow that for Chrome.
Most of the proposed splits seem like they would do absolutely nothing to address the issue at hand, though. The problem in digital advertising seems to be that Google controls the marketplace, as well as both the buy & sell sides. Even a "breaking apart" that proposes splitting "search" from "advertising" would do nothing to address the issues that are getting raised at present.
I'm not an advertising expert, but these issues seem pertain to the buy-side, sell-side, and marketplace associated with digital advertising. Any company that still controls all 3 of those will retain the existing problem.
Also, make it a huge liability to store any kind of personal information. Apply heavy taxes on every single bit stored. These companies should be trying really hard to forget all about us the second they send our HTTP responses, not hoarding our personal information like a bunch of stalkers. Make it exceedingly expensive for them to do it and they'll stop.
Serving ads is doesn't create any value. By now, it's just a tax to be payed to google/facebook.
Why do you think banning online ads gonna destroy the economy?
These internet companies don't even pay a lot of taxes, we allow them to move profit across jurisdictions to optimize.
I really want to see a society wide experiment on banning ALL forms of advertising, be it digital or physical.
Or at least ban the 'dynamic' one - the one which tries to match the user's preferences. Just static, random ads akin to TV or billboards next to the roads.
and it also puts the lid on profitability of walled gardens - as you cannot sell those cohorts to advertisers.
It would be a net gain for society as a whole
The harder part is executing on the above strategy. You will need new institutions or see an expansion or extension of existing institutions. Imagining the FCC trying to do this seems both a likely approach and an incredibly ineffective one.
I would add too that improved regulation of consumer and private data would help significantly. This is probably more likely than the above.
This lawsuit seems like the perfect timing and impetus to get serious about regulation in the digital ecosystem. Just hope we don't fuck it up.
I completely agree and that's what scares me more and more about big tech. We let these huge companies grow for years without really considering the scalability of managing them and now we find ourselves desperately needing to regulate them but not really knowing how.
It reminds me of the content moderation problem with Facebook, the cost of hiring enough humans to adequately deal with content moderation there would quite possibly bankrupt the company, and they know that.
How do you find a sustainable oversight/regulatory strategy when the companies themselves were founded largely on their desire to not figure out those kinds of problems in the first place?
Alone it wouldn't help, but what if you split search from advertising, and forced the "search" part to up advertising to the highest bidder, not just from google ads?
If Google Search really was its own company and with its own shareholders, getting the most money for a bid would be more profitable than colluding with the rest of former Google.
And while it may be hyperbolic to literally slice engineers, anyone who engaged in a criminal conspiracy (from coder to CEO) could be tried and, if convicted, jailed. Having this happen broadly would certainly be illuminating for anyone working in this space in the future.
I'm in two minds about this one. I'm not really a fan of Google but realistically we're talking about backing up messages from a Facebook app. It is also possible to opt out and I know non technical people who have done so on the basis they don't want "more Google".
And in terms of the grandparent's point about the public not being notified for 5 years, perhaps not by Google is accurate, though it was raised by Telegram's founder in response to Snowden's recommendation of WA back in 2016  and covered elsewhere . Snowden was rather dismissive of the relevant point about this, which always puzzled me.
Why can't they just encrypt the data?! It makes no sense. I manually back up my messages because of this. After some time WhatsApp will start nagging me to enable cloud backups. I suppose this fits into the "annoy users until they give up their privacy" theme in the litigation document.
Yes. I have a YubiKey I could use for this.
How would you make a backup end-to-end encrypted without asking for a passphrase or relying on on device storage? I don't think its technically possible.
Maybe google could have tied it to your login credentials, but then no more password resets.
WhatsApp blog post on encrypted backups:
Is Google analyzing uploads to Google Drive to serve you targeted ads? That would be a big breach in trust.
Is there any reason to believe they're not doing that? It's already a known fact that they scan files for malware and other illegal files such as CSAM. WhatsApp backup contents are a gold mine of personal information.
> We don’t show you personalized ads based on your content from Drive, Gmail, or Photos.
The last sentence suggests that yes, Google could have analyzed your uploads to serve you targeted ads.
Remember when Google was working on the DoD’s autonomous murder drone project?
Isn’t WA the predominant means of text communication for people who travel abroad regularly?
They did just a demo, Amazon and Microsoft are the biggest contractors in that space. News media loves to shit on Google in these scenarios but most of it is just Google trying to take a pie of markets others are already in. So all these articles just amounts to Google becoming as evil as the other tech giants.
For example, we know Microsoft takes on these DoD AI projects. Maybe the VSCode telemetry is used to help them make murder drones? We also know Microsoft collaborates with CCP to operate its bing search in China. Maybe they hand over the VSCode telemetry to CCP? People don't ask those questions about Microsoft, so why ask them about Google?
If you did miss that time because it's outside of your time in the tech world, the difference here is that Microsoft never claimed to be anything but a B2B software dealer with a passing fascination with extending its monopoly to the consumer markets. It tried cable TV boxes, phones, and all sorts of other hare brained ideas but the Xbox was the only one that really stuck.
Google PR image'd itself as the anti-Microsoft. No feature creep, just a plain white page that showed you what you wanted to find. Features in the core search product were subtle and generally high on usefulness and low on intrusiveness. Even the Google ad business was marketed as the acceptable compromise between the brain-melting strobe light ads of the late 90s and the word-based ads that people would not object to.
tl;dr: Google had to work at burning all of its bridges.
Surely from a free market perspective and for long term growth, it needs to be broken into pieces in such a manner that would destroy its monopoly power.
Peter Thiel says Google is anti-American because it chooses to work with China but not with US. I wouldn't quite agree with Thiel but I would say that Google's neoliberal culture and neoliberal agenda is starting to become destructive and counter- productive in the long term.
If I was US gov. I would've made law in the early 1990s that says every website, blog etc. is private property and no entity has right to crawl it if not given permission basically eliminating early Internet Search Engine industry meaning the behemoth like Google would probably never exist.
I would also made law that says that private information of a person can only be used in order to facilitate payment transactions with operators that provide and sell goods and services meaning ecommerce e.g. (Amazon, Ebay, Uber, Airbnb etc.)
Basically this law would eliminate early Internet Social Networks like MySpace and Facebook which thrive on using private information of the people for creating ad solutions for advertisers. Subscribing to social networks(buying Social Network service) would made privacy and security situation much better than it is today.
But internet and world would be much different place and I think that using Google and Facebook for "free" comes with big trade-offs that every person needs to evaluate personally or government needs to step in with clear and strict privacy laws.
it would have existed, just outside of the US
Robots.txt protocol exists but it is not even official internet standard under IETF. You can break robots.txt rules and there are no consequences at all. If robots.txt protocol was made law then it would be whole another story.
Not defending the idea of a free market here, I'm leaning pretty far past socialist myself, but I know that the US in general cares deeply about free market philosophy.
The cost is real but so is the national security advantage.
I thought the definition of a free market is one that is free of government/outside regulation and interference. But it's also a market that is free of monopolies, apparently, and the only way to get rid of a monopoly is via government/outside regulation and interference. Isn't that a contradiction?
Perhaps we should use another name for a market where we restrict monopolies -- that site you linked talks about "competitive markets".
Instead, it is more useful to see the initial state that new "green-field" markets are in as desirable. Open for anyone, including small companies, to come in, build something ground-breaking, and then grow.
Overtime, the system tends towards a steady state where one of the companies, or a set of companies start to dominate the others, leading to the formation of cartels. These cartels then impose regulations, be it on the lifespan of bulbs, or on the particulars of the ad market, which are then enforced using the capital and power they have obtained.
These are regulations in all but name. They're enforced by an implicit threat of economic consequences and by restricting access to resources by changing the landscape. In this case, it's Chrome and FB, which are pushing their dominance to ensure that the web becomes theirs - explicitly. They're doing this by buying out the 'land' (Chrome, Android, Search, Social Media, Ads), the 'suppliers' (think about the sheer number of open source projects that Google funds and nudges their way), and the market ("it's all free!") thereby making it practically impossible for anyone to pose a threat to their dominance.
Google is controlling who becomes a competitor by enforcing rules – in this case, secret rules – that only they know of and about. They are, in essence, regulating the market, except towards their ends.
Power abhors a vacuum. If a power hierarchy doesn't exist in a new space, then a new power structure will organically develop in place. Whether or not this new structure is aligned with the incentives of the broader community and new entrants/players/innovators is dependent on who and how the structure is formed.
This is why I would argue that at least with Governments there's a theoretical method of incentive alignment and accountability when things wrong. Methods that have been exercised in the past to course correct. Corporations lack that.
It would be the lesser of two evils to create ways to reverse stale fields to the original green field state every once in a while to allow new ideas and companies to grow. It might be more valuable to do so than to allow the continued monopoly of these companies.
Complete economic freedom leads to monopolies, who then act to preserve and benefit from their position. They do this because they know everyone else both wants that position and would do the same thing to maintain it. All this happens because growth is seen as necessary. Always necessary.
Markets with rules can check those behaviors, but come with other complications, a big one being bought and paid for rule making by bigger players doing what?
Maintaining position and growth.
In the end, why do we even allow markets?
To benefit people.
Factored down, rules aimed at insuring markets actually do serve the people means the people have to have a say in the rules created with authority granted by the people for the purpose of improving things for the people.
Because it's the best we got, historically. Decentralized price mechanism outperforms wetware planning at allocating resources efficiently. Now software has changed that and central planning is much more capable.
Truly pure free market economies are virtually impossible, because as soon as the first firm is formed, it becomes a mixed economy. That is, economic transactions done within the firm are not done according to the global price mechanism, but to other rules and conventions. And the only way to prevent firms from being formed would be some extreme regulation i.e. central planning...
I have long thought it is.
Historically, we got all of this out of the need to benefit from our collective labor and resources, developed tech...
The only reason there are markets at all is for our mutual benefit.
And it follows from there to evaluate market rules to insure that actually happens.
So yes, splitting a monopoly should be part of 'free market', as having monopolies basically destroys it.
An ideal market is both competitive and free, but the former is not a component of (and is often, outside of abstract ideals, in tension with) the latter.
That said, I'd also like to understand the motivation behind the fact that only red states AGs are in the plaintiffs. I rarely associate red state AGs with any form of integrity and in fact red state governments generally represent the frontiers of kleptocracy. So color me skeptical
A lot of the monopoly advantages seem to focus on AdX. I wonder if demanding that Google shall not participate in the ad exchange business could slowly open up competition in all the other markets...
For example, they were concerned that header bidding would make AdX fees go down to 5% instead of 22%, thus they used their advantage in the ad server market to stifle this (plus the FB deal). They are able to do this because they control both markets and can modify the data protocols between these two pieces. Same applies to scrambling IDs (ad servers and display markets)
It was also pretty absurd given that the US used to exempt "trucks" (including SUVs and even "crossovers") from passenger car emissions standards. This was (decades ago) to make things easier for farmers, supposedly, by sparing them the cost of emissions control equipment on their farm trucks. But the auto industry sold the government on the concept that what amounted to a jacked up station wagon car on bigger tires somehow didn't need to meet the same emissions standards as a passenger car, so they got to make more powerful engines with less emissions controls, and this is part of the reason we have SUVs everywhere.
I've been told by multiple Ford superduty owners that they rip out the urea injection and diesel particulate filter systems because "they're unreliable" and "it's such a pain keeping the DPF fluid topped off" and "it hurts performance." You can buy DPF in damn near any gas station that sells diesel, any auto parts store, any big-box retailer, any truck stop...and you get a warning well before the tank runs dry.
Most of Google's political donations go to democrats.
> From 2004 to 2017, $15 million donated by employees of Google and its related companies went to Democrats, and just $1.6 million went to Republicans. Alphabet was created in 2015 as an umbrella company for these companies.
The article's source  verifies that the data is about the companies' employees, not the companies themselves.
Not that it matters, we need a new generation of anti-trust over this. Google must be prohibited from engaging in selling or buying ads.
I admit I'm not very current on this stuff, but isn't Texas one of the few states in that list that has a sizeable number of datacenters?
If the road to hell is paved with good intentions then maybe the road to heaven is paved with bad intentions?
One tribe, as it happens, says rather a lot more daft and dangerous things than the other. It's not possible to _hope and good cheer_ someone into doing something, but it is possible to _terrify_ them with angry rhetoric and falsehoods. I think people who are making a bunch of shit up should probably not be given a megaphone, whether they're speaking for my tribe or yours.
An interesting one is the "1 Agency Act", which was "To transfer antitrust enforcement functions from the Federal Trade Commission to the Department of Justice, and for other purposes." -- https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2926...
Search and AdWords are too tied however.
Think about Pinterest, Quora, or FB, for example, they have "native ads" but they don't operate Internet-wide ad exchanges
I'm not sure you get a benefit to the consumer from having multiple entities who can all still do search and manipulate ads, keyword sales and search rankings for example.
Shimano has a near monopoly on bike parts, and it’s mostly fine. DJI dominates the pro drone market, and it’s fine. All monopolies aren’t evil.
DJI being in China means they will lie, cheat, and steal from competitors such that meaningful competition becomes impossible.
Innovation and consumer value suffer. Monopolies automatically and unavoidably hamper competition and have secondary impacts on unrelated products through inflation of pricing, e.g. if a cog is overpriced it's taking spending away from other markets.
Corporations are not people, they are constructs that act toward to goal of self preservation at any cost. Once they exceed a certain size, individual humans in the loop lose meaningful control over the behavior of the company as a whole.
The international legal situation we find ourselves in automatically places Chinese companies outside the reach of accountability to any rules by which most of the rest of the world have to abide.
By themselves, monopolies could be functional participants in a healthy economy, but there are too many factors making that position completely untenable right now.
We are entering into a new era where big techs are so massive they can fight sovereign states and win, heading us into a new era of neo-feudalism were "civil rights" are only granted if they are not in the middle of our new digital lords lust for profit and power.
So people might think this is unlikely and conspiratory, but its just natural human nature, social dynamics and following the political vectors by the aggregation of the past events.
If they are willing, they know the secrets of everyone, and its just a matter of pressing the right people to bow to their will and that's it, we become the fools of Weimar republic that were not aware of the dangers ahead of us, because there were no historical precedent to make us vigilant and aware, and all the signs were well aligned to a hostile takeover.
Maps already charges fees for all location-based apps (cabs, deliveries, fleet tracking etc) like Uber. It may have to tweak its pricing, that's all.
GCP has a revenue model as strong as AWS. There's a reason why Google is pumping money into it.
Chrome is the only one that could be called a loss leader but given its dominance, it can figure out a model. If Adobe photoshop can survive as a paid software, so can Chrome and its Developer Tools.
Don't we all love "disrupting" things?
Youtube must be split from Google ASAP!