On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to review the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, and technology companies have been pushing back. Like Apple earlier today, Google this afternoon published a blog post detailing specific “harmful consequences” on products as a result of these antitrust bills. 

Google/Alphabet’s Kent Walker (President Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer) said that “legislation being debated in the House and Senate could break these and other popular online services.” At a high level, the upcoming legislation sets out to ban companies from favoring their own products at the expense of competitors.

On the “degrading security and privacy” front, Walker argues that the antitrust bill “could prevent [it] from securing our products by default.” Google believes the law could limit its “ability to integrate automated security features if other companies offer similar features.”

Safe Browsing is specifically cited as something that Chrome and Gmail might not be able to “automatically” include. Similarly, Google warns of not being able to detect issues that require cumulatively collecting “security signals across [its] products.”

Google also notes that it might have to “give equal prominence to a raft of spammy and low-quality services” in Search and the Play Store. It also gives a fourth point that vaguely alludes to possibly having to share user data: 

These bills may compel us to share the sensitive data you store with us with unknown companies in ways that could compromise your privacy.

The next argument offered by Google is how Search and Maps would not be able to offer “integrated, high-quality results” when “some other company might offer competing answers.” This might include not being able to show Google Maps directions after looking up a location in Search or other information like business hours and contact information. Knowledge Panels that provide immediate answers as the first thing on the page could also be at risk. Google also warns about not being able to integrate Gmail, Calendar, and Docs. 

Google’s last tentpole is about how the antitrust bills could limit innovation, including giving “government agencies unprecedented power over the design of consumer products” at the expense of “US technological leadership.” 

Walker is particularly critical of how the bills “seem to be intentionally gerrymandered to exclude many other major companies” that are lobbying for their passage while alleging that Congress is rushing. It’s unclear whether this bill will pass the full Senate.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com