Imagining Google As Government

    October 24, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

In the latest edition of speculation and hyperbole over the search advertising company and its impact on society, we consider the prospect of one nation, under a big G, with information and access for all.

Imagining Google As Government
Google’s Got More Data Than Big Brother

He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
-- Winston gives in at the end of Orwell's 1984

A nation is made up of laws. Without them you get chaos, and the trash never gets picked up on a regular basis. Being a nation has its benefits (taxing its citizens) and drawbacks (foreign tanks massed on the border). Could an entity thrive as a nation without physical borders?

We know of Google’s love for law, courtesy of a New York Times report. Get enough case law built up in your favor, establish enough precedent to make future litigation over a particular point of law overwhelmingly on your side…isn’t making the law parallel to your business operations similar to functioning like a government?

If you don’t believe in the importance of case law, look at how many companies incorporate in Delaware, and hire someone in Wilmington to be a contact person just to fulfill the requirements of Delaware’s articles of incorporation.

Google believes in the importance of law. It is a powerful means to an overarching end, as far as Rescuecom CEO David Milman was concerned. His company faced Google in court, and accused the search company of infringing on its trademark by selling it to competitors as a keyword to generate their advertising. Rescuecom lost the suit.

To Milman’s perspective, Google has outgrown being just a company. His quote in the Times summed that up: “People say you can’t fight the government Google, in this case, is very similar to the government. They’re the government of the Internet.”

Such accusations stemming from the company’s actions, driven by its self-stated purpose to organize the world’s information and make it universally acceptable, may be more accurate than they are credited.

Milman followed up on his comment in response to our query on what checks and balances might be needed to stop Google from infringing in the manner that his company has accused them of doing:

Trademark law as it is currently written clearly prohibits using someone else’s trademark in an advertisement for your products or services (on a billboard, a newspaper ad, or TV or radio spot).

Rescuecom believes that as advertising on the Internet is a two-way communication, typically initiated by the consumer who types a search term into their computer, it is reasonable for the consumer to expect that if they type in a specific trademark, they find that trademark.

If you go into a store and ask for an Apple iPod, and they bring you a Sony Walkman that looks kind of like an iPod (because they are being paid by Sony to do so), with no indication that it’s not an Apple, clearly this misrepresentation would be unacceptable. Other search engines, such as Yahoo, recognize this legal and moral principle and we are hopeful that the Court recognizes this as well.

Rescuecom already lost the first round with Google, but has the case on appeal. Milman also noted that Rescuecom’s natural placement in Google’s search results does not appear to have been impacted negatively since the case has been filed. Corporate expansion has likely increased Rescuecom’s rank within Google too.

The law is with Google, and they are aggressively working to make it more so. Instead of paying off settlements to end lawsuits, Google fights those suits, with each victory bringing one more bit of case law, one more scrap of precedent, to their favor.

So maybe it can be said that Google governs information by law, with the law at one remove from the company’s operation. Google controls infrastructure to a point; the many rumors of a Google Internet carried over their dark fiber purchases could be powered by hundreds of portable datacenters from CEO Eric Schmidt’s one-time employer, Sun Microsystems.

Instead of nuclear arms, Google has the ultimate weapon to employ against websites. Delisting a site from Google takes it out of Google’s index. To the typical searcher, the site may as well not exist. Sure it’s a doomsday weapon, but it is one Google has used many times.

Currency? How about the Gooble, or Google Buck, as a possibility? They already have Google Checkout to handle transactions, and the issuance of digital scrip could be accomplished today. Revenue would come from Google advertising, as always, and since that would be usage-driven it might be seen as a more fair way of collecting revenue than the conventional approach we have today.

So we have law, defense, revenue, transportation infrastructure, and a monetary system either in place or possible to develop. Google as government? It’s already online, it’s just that not many people have noticed.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.