Google is under siege as it faces multiple lawsuits from the DOJ and coalitions of states, a situation it may have Oracle to thank for.
Oracle and Google have been locked in a legal battle since the former bought Sun Microsystems and the Java platform. When Google developed its Android mobile operating systems (OS), it intentionally made Android compatible with the Java libraries.
Google made the decision in an effort to jumpstart Android’s popularity by piggybacking on one of the most popular programming languages in history. The thinking was that programmers would welcome using a programming language they were already proficient in, as opposed to developing for the iPhone which required learning Objective-C, a language rarely used outside of Apple’s ecosystem.
At the time, the move was met with enthusiasm, including from Sun Microsystems. CEO Jonathan Schwartz even offered his personal congratulations:
“I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of others from Sun in offering my heartfelt congratulations to Google on the announcement of their new Java/Linux phone platform, Android. Congratulations!
Once Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems three years later, in 2010, the tune immediately changed. Oracle sued Google for infringing on Java copyrights the company now controlled. The case has continued for the past decade, with both sides chalking up victories, and ultimately leading to arguments before the Supreme Court in October. The ramifications of the case could have far-reaching consequences for the software and tech industry.
It appears, however, that Oracle is simultaneously fighting a completely different battle with Google, helping push regulators toward the current antirust cases.
According to Bloomberg, Oracle sent officials in at least twelve of the states currently suing Google a “black box” presentation that outlined Google’s data privacy practices. Specifically, the presentation showed how Google tracked users’ data, including their location, even when the users’ Android phones were not being used.
Ken Glueck, Oracle’s top Washington lobbyist and the man behind the antitrust campaign against Google, was thrilled with the action the states were taking.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Glueck told Bloomberg. “As far as I can tell, there are more states suing Google than there are states.”
Obviously, any campaign on Oracle’s part was not the sole motivating factor. Google was already under investigation by some individual states, and the company had been under fire for years over its privacy and monopoly practices. Many believed a major lawsuit was inevitable.
Nonetheless, it’s clear that regulators and investigators had an ally in Oracle, and the company may have provided just the push some of those regulators and investigators needed to move forward.