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Google has been in the spotlight this week as it appeals a 5 billion euro fine for running a monopoly in Europe and works to shut down its social network Google Plus after discovering a massive security vulnerability.
Dr. Robert Epstein, the senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear Tuesday to discuss the latest developments surrounding Google.
”To put this into context, there are at least six platforms online that have more than a billion people on them, and for quite a while now, five of them have been controlled by Google,” Epstein told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.
“We are all familiar with YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Google Maps. There has only been one mega platform that Google has not controlled, and that is a social network like Facebook. Google Plus was Google’s second attempt to compete with Facebook and basically dominate that last market. Basically, now they are admitting complete and total failure. If you read their blog about them shutting down Google Plus, yes, it partly has to do with the fact that Google Plus was compromised but also the fact that they never really got any real traction on it. The world has truly been divided up, because there is no more competition of any sort between Google and Facebook,” Epstein added.
In a blog post published Monday, Google admitted that it exposed the personal information of thousands of its Google Plus social network users through a bug that was present in its software between 2015 and 2018. The app reportedly got access to users’ full names, email addresses, birth dates, genders and other info. The bug was discovered and patched in March 2018.
In addition, Google has been facing multiple antitrust actions.
“There are three antitrust actions in progress against Google in Europe. Last year, Google was fined $2.7 billion, and that was for having biased search results. The EU concluded that they [Google] do put their own products and services ahead of competitors. Google paid the fine and appealed. The second fine was just recently and was $5.1 billion, and that was for monopolistic practices in the mobile computing market. Google has appealed, but I believe once again that they have paid the fine. And that’s not the end, because there’s still a third antitrust action in progress, which is probably going to be concluded fairly soon,” Epstein noted.
In addition, according to a leaked transcript from a Google employee meeting held last month, Google is planning to launch a search engine for China within the next six to nine months. The platform, dubbed Project Dragonfly, will be a censored search engine that blocks certain websites banned by the Chinese government. Certain search terms related to human rights, religion, democracy and protest will also be blocked.
“This has very serious implications, not just for China, but for all of us, for freedom of information and internet freedom,” Patrick Poon, an Amnesty International researcher, recently told the Intercept. “It will set a terrible precedent for many other companies who are still trying to do business in China while maintaining the principles of not succumbing to China’s censorship.”
“Google has been asked, point blank, by [US] Vice President [Mike] Pence to end this relationship with the Chinese,” Epstein told Sputnik.
“Google should immediately end development of the ‘Dragonfly’ app that will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers,” Pence said at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, last week, the Washington Examiner reported.