Google has recently been the subject of several waves of antitrust debate and legislation-based lawsuits, and now the company is speaking out about how it says the antitrust bills currently being discussed in the US could harm consumers. That’s based on a post shared to the company’s The Keyword blog.
The argument, laid out by Google & Alphabet President, Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker, centers around a few key points. And those chiefly centered around how changes that could potentially be required of the company will break its services. Whether that’s how Google Search serves end-users at home, businesses, or how it impacts US leadership in the tech space.
Whether Google’s assessment is accurate remains to be seen. But the results, if accurate, do appear stark.
What does Google say about how antitrust bills could impact its customers?
At the center of the debate is Google Search. But Mr. Walker’s rebuttal goes quite a bit further than that. Implying explicitly that these types of bills could break other Google services. For instance, the explainer details how these bills could prevent Google from showing Maps in search results. Pointing directly to a search for “vaccine near me” as one example of a search that would no longer provide a Google Maps interaction.
However, the possible impact also applies to more convenience-related results.
For instance, Google points to users potentially searching up “stroke symptoms” or similar queries. And the company could then be “barred” from providing clear and accurate information from high-quality sources. Or, conversely, searches for businesses may ultimately be forced to exclude details such as operating hours, contact information, reviews. And that, Google argues, would harm small businesses.
All of which is to set aside probable ramifications for those businesses, should the bills under discussion force business tools such as Gmail, Calendar, and Docs to be separated. That’s as opposed to working within the framework of a single, well-integrated suite of tools.
US tech leadership, privacy, and security are at stake here as well, Google says
Now, according to Google, research has proven that its free services “provide thousands of dollars a year in value” to Americans, and 90-percent of Americans “like” its products and services.
So, of course, security and privacy are key areas where problems could potentially arise if its services are ‘handicapped’. But the search giant’s leadership position could be hampered too, placing the US at a disadvantage on the world stage too. That’s if Google’s asserted potential impact is accurate.
According to Google, not only would Americans see less relevant, less helpful versions of products such as Google Search and Maps. The bills would also purportedly result in an “innovation by permission requirement.” And that, Google says, would force American tech companies to seek approval from the government prior to innovating. Effectively holding the entire region back. All while companies not necessarily bound by US law from elsewhere in the world would have free reign to access American technology and data.
That would, in turn, lead to a circumstance where the nation itself would need to increase spending. Specifically in areas where Google is currently leading the charge to help the US stay competitive. In fields from AI to quantum computing and more. With even bigger implications for national security, according to the search giant.
On the consumer side of things, Google asserts, the bills could prevent security from being on by default and automated. Potentially presenting privacy risks as well. And that applies, the company says, to everything from automated SafeBrowsing, spam filters, pop-up blocking, viruses, scams, and malware. Particularly where services would need to be separated. And, as a result, no longer able to integrate or connect to keep a comprehensive eye out for threats.