Your favorite monopoly is now shaping global politics

We already know Google's record of non-engagement when it comes to piracy. But just in case you don't, the short hand version is: Google's record of dealing with piracy have so far been a "cake and eat it too," methodology. That is, benefit its advertising platform business at the expense of artists, while simultaneously giving artists a chance to spend what little free hours they have chasing down offenders.

With this week comes the news comes that google worked closely with California's governor to allow trials of driverless cars on the state's streets.
Google was influential in pushing through this agenda. Why? Why are brands shaping our legislation? But not just brands. Huge honkin' monopolistic brands?

Google co-founder Sergey Brin thinks "..the self-driving car can really dramatically improve the quality of life for anyone...," but according to whom?

Google, for starters. Is it because they are trying to be the first in on the game? And what easier way to do so then to have the law makers in your back pocket before the science fiction becomes reality. And even if, according to this Businessweek article, "The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers expressed concern that California is moving too quickly to embrace self-driving cars and needs to first sort out liability issues," one can assume Google feels like it never hurts to plan.

BUt I get it. Self-driving cars is cool to you. It's very Blade Runner-era. Maybe it's not a big deal that Google is influencing California and Nevada's laws.

Let's switch over to Germany for a second.

According to Der Spiegel, even though Google has only just now officially opened its Berlin office, it has

..long been active in the German capital in its bid to influence government Internet policy. Its subtle approach to lobbying involves building an opaque network of PR professionals, activists and academics -- and its efforts are paying off.

This comes at the same time google is fending off multiple lawsuits in Germany, Brazil and the European Commission's "plans to issue a new data privacy regulation that would establish a right to be forgotten online, an especially menacing proposal for Google."

Add to this a newly approved Web Copyright Law," and you can see why Google needs to keep its influential allies. Der Spiegel mentions how google has been quietly at work gathering lobbyists in the form of research institutes, think tanks and special interest groups.

And while "Chief lobbyist Annette Kroeber-Riel says the company aims to be "transparent and open" in this context," does anyone believe this?

Unlike Bloomberg, Der Spiegel correctly asks:

What does it mean when a company that has an excessively large amount of influence on everyday activities on the Internet is also involved in shaping the public discourse? And what happens when a company which has a quasi-monopoly as a search engine also threatens to gain a quasi-monopoly when it comes to explaining the Internet?

To put it another way: If "Google," weren't a fun time ideation tech company and were instead a big tobacco company, or a fast food company, or a big oil company, would you think every decision they made was good for all concerned?

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Smallz321's picture

Its never good to believe everything a brand says but the last question answers itself I think. "If "Google," weren't a fun time ideation tech company and were instead a big tobacco company, or a fast food company, or a big oil company, would you think every decision they made was good for all concerned?"

Google is not a fast food, oil or tobacco company and the consumption/ utilisation of their primary product/s are not harmful. Their products however can be used for bad (ie. YouTube) but I don't think they intend this. The intent for fast food, oil and tobacco companies is for you to consume as much as possible no matter how detrimental it is to your health and the environment. Their means to more profit are so far destructive. Google's means to more profit are by providing technology which will make lives easier which is infinitely less bad for you. Governments can learn alot from this without selling out their people to Google or any other corporation.

kidsleepy's picture

The consumption of google is harmful when you consider a. it uses a crap load of power (i.e. fossil fuels) everyday to run. and b. it's using lobbyists to influence not only driverless cars, but copyright law.

I ask you, for a company already in hot water over its stance on copyright law is something continuously overlooked. Google may not be killing us with trans fats, or oil slicks, but it is effecting intellectual property for its own gain, and, what's worse, is proving by its actions it has no problem with setting up lobbyists, sometimes years before its actions, to ensure its own demands are met-- even if it means rewriting the law.

And while I agree completely that technology will always come in handy, be it through supposed safer driving in the from of driverless cars, or video games creating a more efficient military, this article is in essence about the dangers of influence. Just because you like google, it doesn't mean they should be influencing global politics.

The governments in germany and brazil and France are learning quite a lot from google's actions, which is why there are so many law suits on multiple fronts: they don't want to sell out their people..

AnonymousCoward's picture

Google will make these self-driving cars run on their Google-maps......

kidsleepy's picture


Dabitch's picture

...Well as long as these self-driving cars aren't running on apple maps, or I'd have to get an amphicar!