It is a universally accepted truth that a wealthy tech monopoly needs a demand from the U.S. government to learn how to behave in society. This is the only way to explain why the media announce these events as "the most momentous judgment on technological power in the modern internet era" when the European Commission has sued, fined and semi-corrected Google on numerous occasions for abusing its market position and distorting it in its favor. As if there had not been a case like this since 1998, when the US government sued Microsoft for abusing its privileges by imposing a browser on the market – called Explorer – by embedding it by default in its operating system. Until last Tuesday, when he began his trial against Google for doing the same with his search engine.
The US Department of Justice accuses the search engine of "maintaining its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that harm competition." Practices such as signing exclusive contracts with other companies to be the only visible chicken muscle of the buffet. At the time, Microsoft signed contracts with hardware manufacturers to sell their Windows computers. The operating system had Explorer installed by default, wiping Netscape Navigator, its main competitor, off the map. Google, for its part, pays about 14,000 million annually to its nemesis to be the default search engine for the iPhone. In the United States it is not illegal to be a monopoly, as liberal journalists have reminded us every day this week, so that no one thinks that there are communists in charge of the country. But buying your place to stay at the top is like making constitutional reforms to cling to power. Google can only be a monopoly if consumers choose it, and for that to happen, consumers have to be able to choose.
Europe has sued and won this lawsuit, but it is more interesting when the U.S. does. Not just because they're American companies. First, because it is its main partner. The U.S. government funds, uses and relies on Google's infrastructure in all its departments, from Defense to Health, Education, Energy and the space program. Second, because you have access to your operations that no one else has.
Partly because of that, no one expects Joe Biden's administration to make grand gestures that harm its main soft power tool. Even if they wanted, as some venture, to tie up the technological ones short, there is what I call the problem of infinite lawyers. Monopolies have infinite money to pay infinite lawyers and appeal infinitely times until they reach the ideal result. Administrations do not. In November 1999, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson concluded that Microsoft had engaged in antitrust practices and ordered the company split into two: one for the operating system, one for software applications, including the browser. Microsoft appealed. If it had succeeded, today there would be no giants like Google, Amazon, Apple or Microsoft itself. But, if the Department of Justice does its job, throughout this trial we will discover relevant aspects about the culture of the empire that, precisely thanks to its small search box, has designed the internet. This potential is reflected in its constraints. There will be no videos or audios of the statements nor will we be able to follow him by streaming for the typical exception reserved for a monopoly: "The most momentous judgment on technological power in the modern age of the Internet" is not being televised or broadcast on the Internet.
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