A Historic Case Against Google

Slate's If Then


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Stay informed with the latest insights, from Goldman, Sachs on the economic and market implications of covid nineteen at GS, dot com slash covid nineteen or any of your favorite podcast platforms. Now roughly a year since the investigation began and only weeks before an election the justice department filed suit. Eleven state attorneys general have also signed on but despite broad bipartisan support for some kind of federal antitrust action if we one of those eleven, agee's is Republican. This is. A suit from a Republican led Justice Department with a bunch of republican state except general what happened to tech being a bipartisan? important thing to know is that a judge when they take a look at this complaint is not going to look differently because it's a bunch of Republican attorneys general on it as compared to a bunch of democratic and Republican Attorneys General the complaint is the complaint the lawsuit is the lawsuit it will be litigated regardless of who actually signs onto that thing. Is. It possible to see this through a nonpartisan or bipartisan lens or are we in a place where? Everything is so freighted with partisan conflict that we can't just say the government sues Google. At least in terms of the initial reaction, there was a sense of bipartisanship Jerry Nadler who runs the House share committee. golfed obviously and trying to impeach trump very praiseworthy that he thought it was about time that Google You know was taken to court by the justice. Department. On the complete flip side of that Josh Hawley very loud Republican pro-trump ally also out there saying it was about time that Google got dragged to court by the US government. Those are folks that you typically don't here on the same side of issues these days, but they essentially were expressing the same thought which was that this was long overdue. We're bringing me to the question of timing here and Attorney General. Bill bars role. There has been some murmuring that some folks in the justice. Department were uncomfortable with the timing of this suit you what do you think of that? We had reported some of the same things that there is this great pressure on the part, of attorney, General Bar to get this case done quickly. You know in one of the stories we roads. talked to some sources who told us that there was like a single digit number of DOJ, lawyers as of the summer who were ready to proceed with the case in a department of forty or so in this informal poll that DOJ had taken to figure out if they were ready to move and this the July August time frame if memory serves me, most of them said that they were not ready but push on the part of Barr and others was to file this in September but there has been this lingering question about why bar was moving to do it when they moved to do it's they certainly have the election up ahead of them. There's a chance obviously that trump could lose. The election, which would have created all kinds of headaches filing a case. So the thinking was that that was why bar was moving ahead as quickly as he was, there's this other school of thought that just says the bar wanted to get things going they'd like he was tired of waiting it was taking too long Google's big business. It would continue to change and there was some benefit to filing this thing starting the discovery process knowing full well that like this case is GonNa take like a decade. This is not some one and done heard before judge we get a ruling and everything's over sort of affair. So I think that there was a desire to kind of get this thing rolling. Even. Though there was an election kind of looming in the distance. Whenever this case sense whether that's in a year or ten, the outcome is really hard to fathom it. It really depends on what the Justice Department tries to to seek at the end of the day. You know if it's as simple as getting Google the stop a couple practices that the government deems bad than maybe the two of them talk if the government tries to break Google into a billion little pieces like that's just. Not GonNa fly with this company. You know the government did not say outright in its lawsuit filed this week that it was going to seek to break apart google into a billion pieces but it did say that it was open to quote structural relief, which is nerd lawyer speak for forcing google to sell off parts of its business and so Google's going to throw every dollar every resource it has to making sure that doesn't happen. Will you wrote about one question that I think is kind of the heart of of all of this which is. Whether. The US government and the existing framework through which it works laws and courts are up to the task of Policing Bank Tech. Are. They. There's a fundamental difference between what we just talked about this one. Right there's do have the ability and think the argument is generally, yes they do, and then the second half of it is do have the political will and that's I think we're this country often has found itself in a bit of a bind in every respect like tech and otherwise. In this case, it's really gonNA come down to how aggressively how creatively can the US government interpret the law it has on its books, and if it finds those laws are not sufficient how hard it's going to work to ensure that the laws get better and it doesn't have to be the case that we sit around for the next ten years by this gets resolved in federal court. There are things that Congress, could you on privacy on antitrust on a great deal of? Consumer Protection issues if there are concerns and so it really is this whole case really is a referendum on whether Washington is willing to take all these angry statements and letters that they have bombarded us with for the past couple of years big tech and translate that into something that actually makes a difference for people. Again, you can fight over whether that's the right call or the right policy is, but this is a real test of whether that rhetoric actually might create some action.

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