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6 Reasons Trump DOJ Will Take Lead from FTC in Google Antitrust Enforcement

The evidence is compelling that the DOJ will replace the FTC as the lead Sherman Act antitrust enforcer on the biggest Google antitrust matters during the Trump Administration.

A huge action forcing event for the Trump DOJ Antitrust Division is coming, most likely this June/July, when EU antitrust authorities most likely will conclude the first of three antitrust cases against Alphabet-Google, and officially rule Google is a 90+% search monopoly that has anticompetitively abused its monopoly position in search, and impose a traditional monopoly nondiscrimination principle remedy that Google treat its shopping comparison competitors as it treats itself.

While conventional wisdom assumes the FTC will continue as the Google antitrust lead, that is very unlikely to continue, because of two Google antitrust gamechangers, the replacement of President Obama with President Trump, and the EU’s coming official antitrust conclusion that Google is in fact a monopoly that acts anticompetitively in over 30% of the world.

Since so much flows from the baseline assumption of which U.S. entity will be the Google antitrust lead, the DOJ or FTC, it warrants closest examination.

Summary of six reasons DOJ will take the Google antitrust lead from FTC

(1) Institutionally, DOJ is the United States’ antitrust lawyer and the official liaison with other countries.

Trump Administration Implications for Google Antitrust in EU, US & Markets

Conclusions:

Most of what we have learned in the five months since the election indicates that the Trump Administration is not going to be Google’s antitrust advocate and protector like the Obama Administration effectively was from 2013-2016, in de facto shutting down any real U.S. antitrust scrutiny of Google, and in turn implicitly discouraging antitrust enforcement of Google in the EU and around the world.  

This antitrust enforcement sea change has three big picture implications: for the EU, for the U.S., and for markets.

Google Antitrust Implications of Makan Delrahim as DOJ Antitrust Chief

President Trump’s impressive nominee to head the DOJ Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, enters the global antitrust stage when one company, America’s Alphabet-Google, has been under near constant antitrust investigation around the world for a decade and faces multiple pending antitrust enforcement actions.

What is the global and U.S. antitrust community to glean from this nomination?

Mr. Delrahim’s background speaks volumes, especially if one believes the adage, people are policy.

Overall, Makan Delrahim is a widely-respected, veteran antitrust official, attorney, expert, and professor, with high-level antitrust experience that check all the right boxes, organizationally, functionally, and professionally.

Mr. Delrahim’s antitrust-specific experience is outstanding.

The Google-Facebook Online Ad Cartel is the Biggest Competition Problem

By far the biggest competition problem facing U.S. antitrust and regulatory authorities is the Goobook Ad Cartel, the unaccountable dominant chokepoint for monetizing most online news, content, products and services.

The evidence is compelling that Google and Facebook have colluded to divide up and corner the online advertising market, and consequently, have deterred competition, devalued property and work, dehumanized privacy, and depressed economic growth and employment.

This unprecedented market power and winner-take-all outcome in such a vital sector of the economy is a direct result of purposeful U.S. non-enforcement of antitrust laws for online platforms, and the lavishment of most every public policy advantage upon them that one could imagine. 

Let’s first examine Google and Facebook’s massive monopolies, then their collusion, and then who is harmed and how.

Google & Facebook’s Massive Monopolies

America’s Indefensible Media Concentration Double Standard

Apparently America does not have “equal justice under law” when it comes to media concentration limits.

Seldom can one find a starker commercial example of unequal legal, law enforcement, and regulatory treatment of very similar commercial activities than that between old media and Internet/new media companies concerning media concentration and antitrust enforcement.

Both legacy old media companies and Internet/new media companies are in the communications business, own and/or produce media of some type, and distribute media in different physical ways, consumption formats, and time/situation dimensions.

Please see this one-page graphic that illustrates how America’s media concentration double standard treats similar old and new media companies completely dissimilarly, and how it results in a predictable stark market share dichotomy.  

Ultimately old media concentration has been limited by the traditional antitrust limits that apply to all industries and companies over the years.

That’s no longer true for Big-Internet companies like Google and Facebook.

How Google Is Anti-employment Anti-property & Pro-regulation

Google’s unprecedented Obama Administration influence and its self-serving anti-employment, anti-property, and pro-regulatory policy agenda, are on a collision course with the job-creating, pro-property, deregulatory Trump Administration growth agenda.

Keep watch to see who adapts to whom and how.

I.  Google’s Unprecedented Lobbying Influence

Current Alphabet-Google Chairman Eric Schmidt enjoys the privilege of being the only corporate leader of a publicly-traded company on the President’s nineteen member Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Top 5 Worst Antitrust Enforcement Decisions in the 21st Century

Google is in the process of submitting its defenses to the EU antitrust charges that Google abuses its >90% dominance in search, mobile, and advertising. At the same time a new U.S. Administration soon will take a fresh look at U.S. antitrust enforcement, much like the EU did for Europe in late 2014.

So how did EU v. Google become the most consequential antitrust case of the young 21st century? 

Google Fiber Pivots to Be Wireless ISP & FCC Spectrum Access Administrator

Don’t miss Google’s enduring big wireless ISP ambitions in the midst of all the noise and confusion about the future of Google Fiber.

And also don’t miss Google’s grand ambitions to organize and dominate America’s spectrum-related information via its certification as a key FCC Spectrum Access System Administrator, given how little public attention it has gotten to date.

Google continues to pivot its Internet access ambitions away from deploying capital-expensive fiber technology deployment to deploying much-less-capital-expensive unlicensed wireless access technology, which does not require digging and burying fiber, and which may only use free unlicensed spectrum.

Why Google Fiber is Dead Business Model Walking

Google deserves credit for trying something very difficult, and putting some big money where their mouth was.

That said Google Fiber looks like dead business model walking. 

Consider what happened this past summer.

June 22, 2016, it was announced that Google acquired Webpass, a wireless ISP. 

In July, per The Information reporting, “Alphabet CEO Larry Page ordered Google Fiber’s chief, Craig Barratt, to halve the size of the Google Fiber team to 500 people. …Mr. Page has also told Mr. Barratt to reduce the current cost of bringing Google Fiber to customers’ homes to one-tenth the current level.”

Google’s New Home/Hardware Integration Has Privacy & Antitrust Implications

Listen to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai when he says Google foresees a transformation from a “mobile-first world to an AI-first world,” because that is where Google-Android’s ~90% market dominance in mobile, search, and search advertising, is going to take the world -- like it or not.

As you will see, an “AI-first world” is also a “privacy-second world” and an “antitrust-cursed world.”

Just like Google’s unmatched data collection enabled it to figure out how to position itself to dominate the mobile Internet with Android’s contractual-tying over the last eight years, Google’s unmatched data collection currently is enabling it to figure out how to perfectly vertically-integrate a comprehensive-suite of home-related, products and services to dominate home-digital information and services with its just announced products: Google Home, Google WiFi, Allo, Google Assistant, Google Pixel, etc.

Naturally this Google “data-driven,” omni-integration will have big privacy and antitrust implications.

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