Google ‘Google’ to learn about its corporate greed

Search engine giant needs to be exposed for its unfair business practices

Emily Flamme, Staff Writer

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Google, the most visited website in the world, is currently under investigation in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for antitrust violations.

Google is under fire for potentially breaking antitrust laws, which are laws that encourage competition and prohibit monopolies. However, Google may get off without punishment.

The issue cited is that it is controlling virtually all online advertising, smothering the competition.

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Nearly 90% of internet searches are done through Google.

Google is so dominant that nearly 90% of internet searches take place through the browser. Because they control nearly all of what internet users are seeing, it can control what is being advertised to its consumers — hence, where the problem comes in.

It is limiting competition not only in the search industry but also in the online advertising industry. Google is not only controlling what people are seeing but what people are buying.

Despite being dominant on the internet, Google and its subsidiaries are lacking something glaringly obvious: accessibility. The internet, in general, lacks the proper accessibility it should have for its disabled users — most noticeably YouTube, which is owned by Google.

I wear cochlear implants, so I can hear well. However, my hearing is not as good as the average person, therefore I use closed captioning when I watch videos or TV.

When I watch YouTube, I turn on its automatic captioning that most videos utilize, but, as many people are aware, they are highly inaccurate. According to an article by Duchin Productions, one out of every three words are incorrect. This is an issue because the meaning of the sentence can change with just one word being captioned incorrectly. If I find it difficult to watch YouTube’s videos, I can only imagine how completely deaf people feel, hence why I decided to research the legality of YouTube’s captions.

Title II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states, “Captions must relay the speaker’s exact words with correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar with 99% accuracy. No paraphrasing. Honor the original tone and intent of the speaker.”

However, this applies to videos that previously aired on television. YouTube may not be breaking the law, but the law needs to be updated to reflect current societal needs. In 1990, when the law was written, the internet was not prominent in people’s lives, whereas today it is integral to people’s work, studies and recreation. Because of the internet’s huge impact on society, accessibility needs to be enforced. The internet is run by Google, which means they need to take accessibility seriously.

Google is an LLC, which means it is a privately-owned company. The company that owns Google is called Alphabet Inc. Alphabet is a publicly funded company that was created by Google in order to give themselves the benefits of both an LLC and a corporation. For a corporation like Alphabet that is receiving the benefits of being on the market, there is more recordkeeping. According to the Corporations Act 2001, corporations “must correctly record and explain transactions and financial position and performance and would enable true and fair financial statements to be prepared and audited.”

This law applies to Alphabet, not Google. For an LLC, there is less recordkeeping, so things like accessibility can easily slip through the cracks.

A potential digital monopoly is relatively new territory for America. That is why legislation has not been put into action regarding internet regulation. People involved in legislation do not bring up how much of what we see is controlled by Google because it is simply a fact of American life.

They are more concerned with the limiting of competition through targeted ad practices, privacy issues and the stifling of growth in the industry. Legislators from both sides of the aisle can agree that Google’s business practices have potentially undermined consumers’ choice, so why is it so hard to get a real result from investigations?

The issue comes in that the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 does not seem to apply to the digital world. This would be a false assumption to make. The law says it “prohibits monopolies or unreasonable combinations of companies to restrict or in any way control interstate commerce.”

This law is broad enough to include issues in today’s world, but people involved in the corporate world have tried to narrow the definition to require proof of limiting competition through actual dollar amounts. However, on the internet, people “pay” for services through data.

While a person may not be paying physical money every time they make a search on Google, they are still contributing to Google’s spot as the most used browser. Since Google achieved this status, it knows that it rules the industry.

By dominating the industry, it can control what its users see through an algorithm they created. It is clear, however, that Google prioritizes search results from people who pay for ads. When people use Google to search for a doctor, the first several search results should not be from practices who paid the most in advertising. America is supposed to be a country where anyone can be successful, and Google’s algorithm that prioritizes its partnerships threatens that.

Its business practices reveal a big company that is skirting around legalities and doing everything in its power to make money, much like the big oil companies of the late 19th century. It can be seen in almost every aspect of how they run their company and its subsidiaries. The lack of accessibility and transparency is just collateral damage from a company that is looking for total control.

History repeats itself, I just hope the country looks to the past and condemns Google.