Jus­tice Depart­ment near­ing an­titrust ac­tion on Google

‘ Big Tech has a pow­er­ful in­flu­ence on com­merce and our daily lives, war­rant­ing ’ sig­nif­i­cant scru­tiny

Arab Times - - BUSINESS PLUS - By Marcy Gor­don

As

the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion moves to­ward an­titrust ac­tion against search gi­ant Google, it’s cam­paign­ing to en­list sup­port from sym­pa­thetic state at­tor­neys gen­eral across the coun­try.

And Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pushed his cam­paign against Big Tech on Wed­nes­day, tout­ing curbs on le­gal pro­tec­tions for so­cial me­dia plat­forms he de­nounces as bi­ased against con­ser­va­tive views.

“In re­cent years, a small group of tech­nol­ogy plat­forms have tight­ened their grip over com­merce and com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Amer­ica,” Trump de­clared at a White House event with At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr and Repub­li­can at­tor­neys gen­eral from sev­eral states. “They’ve used this power to en­gage in un­scrupu­lous busi­ness prac­tices while si­mul­ta­ne­ously wag­ing war on free en­ter­prise and free ex­pres­sion.”

The an­tic­i­pated law­suit against

Google by the Jus­tice Depart­ment could be the gov­ern­ment’s big­gest le­gal of­fen­sive to pro­tect com­pe­ti­tion since the ground-break­ing case against Mi­crosoft al­most 20 years ago.

Law­mak­ers and con­sumer ad­vo­cates ac­cuse Google of abus­ing its dom­i­nance in on­line search and ad­ver­tis­ing to sti­fle com­pe­ti­tion and boost its prof­its.

For over a year, the Jus­tice Depart­ment and the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion have pur­sued sweep­ing an­titrust in­ves­ti­ga­tions of big tech com­pa­nies, look­ing at whether Google, Face­book, Ama­zon and Ap­ple have hurt com­pe­ti­tion, sti­fled in­no­va­tion or oth­er­wise harmed con­sumers. And a bi­par­ti­san coali­tion of 50 US states and ter­ri­to­ries, led by Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Pax­ton, an­nounced a year ago on the steps of the Supreme Court that they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Google’s busi­ness prac­tices. They cited “po­ten­tial mo­nop­o­lis­tic be­hav­ior.”

Now with some 40 days to the

pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the Jus­tice Depart­ment ap­pears to be ap­proach­ing le­gal ac­tion against Google and so­lic­it­ing the sup­port of state at­tor­neys gen­eral on an is­sue of rare bi­par­ti­san agree­ment, while Trump ap­peals to his po­lit­i­cal base by am­pli­fy­ing a long­stand­ing griev­ance of con­ser­va­tives against Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Along with the an­titrust drive, the Jus­tice Depart­ment has asked Congress to roll back long-held le­gal pro­tec­tions for on­line plat­forms like Face­book, Google and Twit­ter, putting down a leg­isla­tive marker in Trump’s drive against the so­cial me­dia giants. The pro­posed changes would strip some of the bedrock pro­tec­tions that have gen­er­ally shielded the com­pa­nies from le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity for what peo­ple post on their plat­forms.

Trump signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der ear­lier this year chal­leng­ing the pro­tec­tions from law­suits un­der a 1996 telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions law that have served as the foun­da­tion for un­fet­tered

speech on the in­ter­net.

The White House said Wed­nes­day the leg­isla­tive pro­posal would pro­tect the open in­ter­net and pre­vent hid­den ma­nip­u­la­tion by so­cial me­dia. In ad­di­tion, Barr said, the gov­ern­ment will pro­vide in­di­vid­u­als the abil­ity to pur­sue le­gal claims against on­line plat­forms for “bad-faith cen­sor­ship.”

So­cial me­dia plat­forms can abuse con­sumers’ trust “by de­cid­ing which voices they are go­ing to am­plify and which they are go­ing to throt­tle, and by im­prop­erly track­ing, col­lect­ing user data and even fa­cil­i­tat­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity,” Barr said.

Sep­a­rately, the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s an­titrust of­fi­cials are ex­pected to dis­cuss their planned ac­tion on Google in Washington meet­ings and a con­fer­ence call with the state at­tor­neys gen­eral on Thurs­day.

“Big Tech has a pow­er­ful in­flu­ence on com­merce and our daily lives, war­rant­ing sig­nif­i­cant scru­tiny,” Washington state at­tor­ney gen­eral

Bob Ferguson said in a state­ment on Tues­day. “Any ef­fort to abuse that in­flu­ence for com­pet­i­tive gain calls for vig­or­ous en­force­ment of the an­titrust laws.”

Sup­port from the states would bol­ster the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s case against Google. It’s a tricky po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­lus for states, how­ever. If a Bi­den ad­min­is­tra­tion takes over next year, the sta­tus of the law­suit against Google would be un­clear. A state sign­ing on to the fed­eral case also could limit the tools, such as state con­sumer laws, that it might want to use to pur­sue its own ac­tion – and the po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit lo­cally of tak­ing up a cause for con­sumers.

Some Repub­li­can at­tor­neys gen­eral could be ex­pected to join the fed­eral case, while an­other group of states may opt to pur­sue their own ac­tions.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has long had Google in its sights. A top eco­nomic ad­viser to the pres­i­dent said two years ago that the White House was con­sid­er­ing whether Google searches should be sub­ject to gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion. Trump him­self has of­ten crit­i­cized Google, re­cy­cling un­founded claims by con­ser­va­tives that the search gi­ant is bi­ased against con­ser­va­tives and sup­presses their view­points, in­ter­feres with US elec­tions and prefers work­ing with the Chi­nese mil­i­tary over the Pen­tagon.

The com­pany, based in Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, has de­nied the claims and in­sists that it never ranks search re­sults to ma­nip­u­late po­lit­i­cal views. Google has ar­gued that al­though its busi­nesses are large, they are use­ful and ben­e­fi­cial to con­sumers. It main­tains that its ser­vices face am­ple com­pe­ti­tion and have un­leashed in­no­va­tions that help peo­ple man­age their lives. Most of its ser­vices are of­fered for free in ex­change for per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that helps Google sell its ads.

A House Ju­di­ciary sub­com­mit­tee has pur­sued its own bi­par­ti­san sweep­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Big Tech’s mar­ket dom­i­nance. The panel’s chair­man, Rep David Ci­cilline, D-R.I., ac­cused Google in a July hear­ing of lever­ag­ing its dom­i­nant search en­gine to steal ideas and in­for­ma­tion from other web­sites, and ma­nip­u­lat­ing its re­sults to drive peo­ple to its own dig­i­tal ser­vices to boost prof­its.

An­titrust reg­u­la­tors in Europe have cracked down on Google in re­cent years by im­pos­ing multi­bil­lion-dol­lar fines and or­der­ing changes to its prac­tices.

Google, whose par­ent is Al­pha­bet Inc, con­trols about 90% of global web searches. Its dom­i­nance in on­line search and ad­ver­tis­ing en­ables it to tar­get mil­lions of con­sumers for their per­sonal data. Google dwarfs other search com­peti­tors such as Mi­crosoft’s Bing and Yelp, and has faced harsh crit­i­cism in the past for fa­vor­ing its own prod­ucts over com­peti­tors at the top of search re­sults.

Google also owns the lead­ing web browser in Chrome, the world’s largest mo­bile oper­at­ing sys­tem in An­droid, the top video site in YouTube and the most pop­u­lar dig­i­tal map­ping sys­tem. (AP)

a dog. (AP)

88 whales res­cued:

Au­thor­i­ties have res­cued 88 pi­lot whales and are at­tempt­ing to free 20 oth­ers that sur­vived Aus­tralia’s worst mass strand­ing, as crews prepare to re­move 380 de­com­pos­ing car­casses from the shal­lows of Tas­ma­nia state, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day.

Crews found the 20 whales that are still alive on the fourth day of the res­cue op­er­a­tion, Tas­ma­nia Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice Man­ager Nic Deka said.

“When­ever we’ve got live animals that have a chance and we have the re­sources, then we’ll cer­tainly give in a go,” Deka said. Al­most 500 whales were dis­cov­ered on Mon­day and Wed­nes­day beached on the shore and sand bars along the re­mote west coast of the is­land state near the town of Stra­han. (AP)

da Sanchez,

McQueen.

Tampa Don Lewis’ Donna Pet­tis, LynGale Rath­bone,

Anne sanc­tu­ary as de­fen­dants.

The law­suit said that Baskin de­famed McQueen by post­ing a video di­ary en­try on YouTube ear­lier this month in which she says McQueen played a role in Lewis’ dis­ap­pear­ance. Those state­ments and em­bez­zle­ment al­le­ga­tions also were made on Baskin’s web­site, “big­ca­tres­cue. org,” the law­suit said.

The law­suit also is seek­ing what is known as a “pure bill of dis­cov­ery,” which al­lows in­for­ma­tion in a case to be gath­ered be­fore a civil com­plaint is filed.

“De­spite con­tentions to the con­trary, the truth has never been ex­plored in any court and there is a good faith ba­sis to be­lieve the truth will open up many vi­able reme­dies,” the law­suit said.

The pure bill of dis­cov­ery “will be use­ful to iden­tify po­ten­tial de­fen­dants and the­o­ries of li­a­bil­ity and to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion nec­es­sary for meet­ing a con­di­tion prece­dent to fil­ing suit,” the law­suit said.

Lewis’s dis­ap­pear­ance re­mains an open case. In March, Hills­bor­ough County Sher­iff Chad Chro­nis­ter an­nounced that his of­fice was seek­ing new leads fol­low­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of Net­flix’s

would rep­re­sent a wind­fall for the present owner. The paint­ing was last ac­quired at auc­tion in 1982 for £810,000 (or just over $1 mil­lion to­day). Apos­tle doesn’t be­lieve the global pan­demic will de­press in­ter­est in the work. “We’ve seen even dur­ing this time pe­riod that peo­ple are hun­gry for art, hun­gry for mas­ter­pieces, al­ways.”

The paint­ing - be­lieved to have been ex­e­cuted in the late 1470s or early 1480s - ac­tu­ally rep­re­sents two art works. Bot­ti­celli painted the noble sit­ter but the roundel - a cir­cu­lar disc used as a sym­bol - de­picts a saint and is an orig­i­nal 14th-cen­tury work at­trib­uted to the Sienese painter Bar­tolom­meo

LOS ANGELES: Model Gigi Ha­did and her mu­si­cian boyfriend Zayn Ma­lik took to so­cial me­dia to cel­e­brate the ar­rival of an in­fant girl, with dad say­ing he’s “grate­ful” and “thank­ful”.

“To try put into words how I am feel­ing right now would be an im­pos­si­ble task. The love I feel for this tiny hu­man is be­yond my un­der­stand­ing. Grate­ful to know her, proud to call her mine,” Ma­lik wrote on Twit­ter. He shared a black and white im­age fea­tur­ing Ma­lik and their daugh­ter hold­ing hands. Ha­did also shared a sim­i­lar photo on In­sta­gram, with the cap­tion: “Our girl joined us earth-side this week­end and she’s al­ready chang­ing our world. So in love.” Nei­ther par­ent re­vealed the baby’s name. The su­per­model con­firmed her preg­nancy in April at Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show”. It is Ha­did’s first child with boyfriend Ma­lik, a for­mer mem­ber of One Di­rec­tion. (AP)

This file photo shows Google’s head­quar­ters in Moun­tain View, Calif. As the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion moves to­ward an­titrust ac­tion against search gi­ant Google, it’s cam­paign­ing to en­list sup­port from sym­pa­thetic state at­tor­neys gen­eral across the coun­try. And Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is push­ing his cam­paign against Big Tech on Sept 23, 2020, tout­ing curbs on le­gal pro­tec­tions for so­cial me­dia plat­forms he de­nounces as bi­ased against con­ser­va­tive views. (AP)

Bjork­man

Barzi­lay

Baskin

Finney

Mod­els wear cre­ations as part of the Dolce & Gab­bana 2021 women’s spring-sum­mer ready-to-wear col­lec­tion dur­ing the Mi­lan Fash­ion Week in Mi­lan, Italy on Sept 23. (AP)

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