Google Finds Itself at the Supreme Court for Predatory Behavior

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Just a few years ago, Google marketed itself under the slogan “don’t be evil.” It’s now dropped that slogan, and rightly so. Constantly breaking the law, after all, doesn’t shy far from the definition of “evil.”

It seems like everyone is finally fed up with the company’s behavior.

As of late, Google has been dealing with an increased level of scrutiny. Everyone, from the states to the federal government, seems to have a bone to pick with the Silicon Valley giant. Many of the investigations center around anti-competitive practices that go back over a decade. It appears the digital advertising market has been monopolized by Google, and the company’s work in other digital spaces isn’t much better.

For example, the state of Arizona is investigating Google’s theft of user data. In his filing, Attorney General Mark Brnovich highlighted “deceptive and unfair practices” as the way Google obtained user location data. Arizona’s action followed a similar complaint filed in the European Union, where Google has been fighting regulations for years. Nearby, the attorney general in Texas is hopeful his state will have charges to announce by the autumn. There is even speculation that they could push for a complete breakup of the company.

Google is also facing a $5 billion class action suit charging it tracked Americans who had their phones in “private” mode. This isn’t the first time this accusation has occurred. It’s becoming clear that Google doesn’t care about user privacy and is determined to collect as much information about you as it can, regardless of whether you provide consent.

Ultimately, Google doesn’t care about your right to privacy or property. It only cares about what it can use, and what it can sell.

Meanwhile, it’s clear that Google doesn’t care if you don’t want to be tracked everywhere you go, and have every search catalogued. It wants to collect as much information about you as it can, in real time. Even when you log out or try to deny it permission to track you, it doesn’t care about your right to privacy. It only cares about what it can use, and what it can sell.

That’s why a case pending at the Supreme Court, Google v. Oracle, may be the most important case of the year. If the Justices rule correctly, Google may finally face its day of reckoning.

Here’s how we got here.

When Google was designing its Android operating system for cell phones, it wanted to use the Java programming language. However, it didn’t like the licensing stipulations that the licensor gave during its negotiations, so it “used the declaration code and integrated it into Android on the theory that the declaration code was not copyrightable,” as the National Law Review explains the case.

When Oracle sued to assert its rights, a federal appeals court found Google infringed on Oracle’s copyright in Java. It also held that Google could not fall back on a “fair use” defense, because Java was properly copyrighted, and users must pay to implement it.

Android runs on eight-out-of-10 phones in the world. And these days, half of all internet searches come from phones. It sure sounds as if Google is building that illegal monopoly, and doing it illegally, using a language it didn’t pay for.

Again, this matters today because the case is at the Supreme Court. As National Law Review warns: “if the Court reverses the decision, then software developers may lose what little protections they have, resulting in less software innovation and/or an increase in competition.”

Translation: Google could be free and clear to steal. And be evil. That cannot be allowed.