Google Antitrust Trial - Data And Secrets - Makings Of A Thriller

Google on Tuesday rolled out new capabilities for its conversational chatbot, Bard, built on artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing and machine learning.

Yes, it requires data -- and human input -- but the change integrates Bard with Google apps and services to provide more helpful responses. It also improved the “Google it” feature to double-check Bard’s answers.

Google calls it Bard Extensions and describes the feature as a new way to interact and collaborate with its apps. It's done with the help of AI, and an integration into Gmail, Docs, Drive, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Flights and hotels. It launched today in English.

For example, if someone plans a trip to Yellowstone, Wyoming, they can now ask Bard to find the dates that work for everyone whose going. It's done through a connection with Gmail, ability to look up real-time flight and hotel information, see Google Maps directions to the airport. It also lets users connect with YouTube videos of things to do there -- all within one conversation.



In other words, Google's integration through Bard can now read a user's emails, plan trips and find directions based on the information.

Bard’s "Google it" button, which also launched today, will double-check its answers. Clicking on the the “G” icon prompts Bard to read the response and evaluate whether there is content across the web to substantiate it. 

It takes data to do this -- lots of it -- not only from one user, but every user who plans to go on the trip. 

Data and secrets have emerged as central characters in Google's antitrust trial vs. the U.S. Justice Department. The trial is a thriller of sorts that includes action and suspense.

The government believes that data is the foundation of Google’s success. Each search query adds data, text- and voice-based, on mobile, desktop and tablets, and now the search engine can learn and expand through artificial intelligence (AI)- and machine learning (ML)-related queries.

The more data, the more users -- and the more advertisers -- are willing to pay to attract those queries. Each bit and byte of data, the government argues, is a roadblock for rivals.

But companies like Microsoft have access to this data in their own ways. For Microsoft, this is through Microsoft Advertising and Bing, along with software and services, and the Windows operating system.

Cliqz, the privacy search engine and browser founded by Jean-Paul Schmetz, CEO of Ghostery, was directly impacted by Google’s anti-competitive practices.

One of the central questions of this case is whether Google paid other browsers to be the exclusive search provider with the intention of destroying the potential competition, according to Schmetz. 

“Google has a big hurdle to overcome in this hearing because, when looking at the facts of the case, it’s fairly straightforward their payments to other browsers were driven by the desire to be the default search provider and prevent other companies from doing the same,” he said. “All other players in this market for the last 15 years know that Google was paying for exclusivity in order to be the dominant player.”

It’s important for search engine choice to be driven by competition so users can have real agency over their browsing experience, Schmetz said, but after 15 years of Google monopolizing the market, there aren’t a lot of alternatives left, he said. In the U.S., only Brave Search, Bing and it’s derivatives like DuckDuckGo are current competitors.

“The government’s case against Google is very strong, but it will still be a difficult case to win because it does not have a lot of precedents,” Schmetz said. “The Microsoft trial in 1998 was somewhat similar, with the company paying hardware manufacturers to be the default operation system, but Google has learned a lot from Microsoft’s mistakes.”

If the court finds that companies are allowed under the current antitrust legal framework to pay to be the exclusive search provider, that would set a significant precedent and be very successful for Google, Schmetz said.

In early September, reported that Google processes approximately 99,000 search queries every second. This translates to 8.5 billion searches per day and approximately 2 trillion global searches per year. About 15% of Google searches are unique, which is equivalent to 1.275 billion unique queries every day.

The average person conducts between three and four searches each day as an estimate, but most in the advertising industry conduct many more searches. I have lost count of the number of searches I do daily. These numbers are just an estimate, because Google does not reveal the exact amount.

Partnerships also have been a question in the trial. The U.S. Justice Department on Monday, during the second week of Google’s antitrust trial, questioned a Verizon executive about the company's decision to pre-install Google's Chrome browser with Google search on its mobile phones.

Brian Higgins, a 28-year Verizon veteran, was on the team from 2017 to 2023 that struck deals with Google to pick software to preload onto the carrier's phones. Higgins testified in Washington that he believes the search engine pre-installed software all the time. And that he believes Verizon did not seek other bids before creating the partnership with Google.

Another issue at the heart of the matter is how Google prices online advertising. John Schmidtlein, the lead trial counsel for Google, said that all discussions around ad prices should take place in a closed session without the presence of public and reporters, but the U.S. Justice Department objected to removing the public from the court during related discussions.

David Dahlquist, speaking for the government, pointed to a redacted document and had a discussion about Google's pricing for search advertising. He showed Judge Amit Mehta, who will decide the case, the type of information that should not be redacted because it satisfies public interest.

Next story loading loading..