Will the Supreme Court Make Google Too Big to Fail?
It’s practically a foregone conclusion that everyone uses Google in one way or another. Now the company’s reach has expanded even further, acquiring Fitbit in December for a whopping $2.1 billion. Google products are in our homes, its software is on our phones, and its search engine answers over three billion queries per day. Even the word “google” itself has become a fixture in the American lexicon. The tech giant has become so ubiquitous, its influence so massive, that it’s safe to say Google’s effect on public discourse is unparalleled in modern society.
Once a mere search engine, the tech company now operates within the fields of computing, mobile phones, artificial intelligence, and a whole host of other industries. Google’s pull over the levers of the U.S. economy is substantial and growing by the day. But this is a dangerous trend that America has witnessed before. We know where this leads, and unfortunately, it’s nowhere good. Google, it seems, is becoming too big to fail.
To their credit, certain conservatives have seen the risks that Google poses for some time now. For years, Tucker Carlson has railed against Google and other big tech companies, arguing that they present perhaps the greatest threat toward American liberty. As Carlson contends, companies like Google function as practical monopolies, continually expanding outward, growing in power until their influence is too significant to ignore. As it turns out, that is precisely what Google is attempting to accomplish -- and it is using the American legal system to help ensure its success.
In fact, Google is currently involved in a lawsuit that, if successful, would catapult the tech giant’s economic influence into the stratosphere. Google v. Oracle is a case headed for review by the Supreme Court. There, the nine justices will be asked to decide whether privately-owned digital information -- in this case, software code -- is subject to the protections provided by copyright.
Google, having previously copied a portion of Oracle’s proprietary Java software, is arguing that copyright protection doesn’t apply in this instance. Sections of code, they claim, aren’t inherently copyrightable -- so Google was within their rights to replicate the code for their own ends.
It’s an argument that makes sense coming from a massively dominant tech company looking to cement itself as irreplaceable within the American economy. If the Supreme Court were to rule in Google’s favor, not only would the tech giant escape an $8.8 billion fine, but it would also be given free rein to copy other code as well. Unencumbered by copyright restrictions, Google would be able to replicate the software of its potential competitors.
Google alone is responsible for over $165 billion in national economic activity. Approximately 1.4 million companies across the United States rely on Google to operate -- including nine out of every ten part-time businesses. Without a doubt, this one company maintains an outsized impact on the economy at large. And if ever it were to fail, it would devastate all those businesses that rely upon it. Sound familiar?
Over a decade ago, big banks collapsed the entire U.S. economy because their very existence was intrinsically tied to America’s economic well-being. Our financial system became dependent upon these banks. They were “too big to fail.” And when they did indeed fail, they nearly took America down with them. It’s a sobering piece of American history -- one in which we are currently at risk of repeating. Only this time, the threat isn’t the greedy Wall Street bankers. It’s Google.
Google already boasts impressive economies of scale, with nearly 88 percent of the search engine market share. But with a positive Supreme Court decision, Google’s inherent marketplace advantage would become insurmountable. It could potentially integrate nearly any technology that would threaten the company’s preeminence, snuffing out competition before any even arises. Google would become precisely what Tucker Carlson warned about: a monopoly. Such an outcome would be devastating, not just for the tech industry, but the entire American economy.
Within the United States, no single company should be irreplaceable. No one entity should be so influential that its potential failure could jeopardize our nation’s entire economic structure. No company should be too big to fail. Yet, if Google triumphs in its Supreme Court lawsuit, it will become just that. It’s incredibly dangerous to allow any one company to become too powerful -- a lesson the United States has learned before, and a mistake we can’t afford to make again.