The U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would finally curb the power of Big Tech. Naturally, Google is against it. And as it does so often, literally, again and again, it is lashing out publicly against what it calls “anti-tech.”
“We’re concerned that Congress is considering legislation that would compromise Google’s ability to keep users secure by default, as well as break popular features in products like Search and Maps,” Google vice president Royal Hansen writes in Google’s latest screed. “As experts gather for the RSA Conference this week, I wanted to share my perspective as a security professional on the real risks that this legislation poses for US security.”
Google taking a pro-privacy and pro-security stance may strike some as amusing given the company’s primary business model. But it’s a logical enough position. As Hansen notes, the firm blocks 100 million phishing attempts and tracks over 270 government-backed threat actors from over 50 countries every single day. Its entire business is online.
But Hansen claims that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which is designed to prevent Big Tech firms from favoring their own services over those of rivals or partners, will somehow impact security. I’ll let him make that argument.
“[The bill] could hurt our ability to make quick decisions to keep our products secure, requiring us to ask: would thwarting a potential bad actor violate the law and open us up to legal liability?” he writes. “Even pausing to ask the question would leave millions of users vulnerable for precious minutes while a potential security threat persists. And when it comes to cybersecurity, every second counts.”
That this argument is specious is obvious. After all, Google discriminates against rival services to improve its revenues, not to improve security. And it’s not hard to imagine that Google arguing in the future about an integration that was solely security-related would sway antitrust regulators. After all, this isn’t about security. It’s about fairness.
I’m embarrassed for Google. This is not a good look, and to claim, among other things, that this legislation would have somehow prevented it from aiding Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion isn’t just beyond the pale, it’s disgusting.