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Clown lawyer AG v. 800-pound gorilla Google G.

IT Incompetent Attorneys General v. Google



By Duane Thresher, Ph.D.          November 7, 2020

A few days before Halloween, U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that he and the attorneys general (AG) of eleven states were filing a civil lawsuit against Google in U.S. District Court (the lowest federal court, where all federal cases must start) of the District of Columbia (where conveniently Google has a corporate presence) for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 (Title 15 of the United States Code, §§ 1-7). While Google is a prime candidate for an anti-monopoly lawsuit, given the IT incompetence of all the attorneys general and the IT incompetent track record of the U.S. Attorney General, and his Department of Justice, in antitrust lawsuits against IT corporations, this will take years and cost millions of dollars, and result in no real help to Google's victims.

According to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, "As with its historic antitrust actions against AT&T in 1974 and Microsoft in 1998, the Department is again enforcing the Sherman Act to restore the role of competition and open the door to the next wave of innovation -- this time in vital digital markets".

Let's actually look at United States v. AT&T. It was indeed started in 1974 but it was not settled until 1984, after millions of dollars. AT&T began as a U.S. Government sanctioned monopoly but because laws are almost impossible to repeal -- Congress passes laws and never thinks about them again -- when the U.S. Government wanted to break up AT&T's monopoly it had to have the Department of Justice sue AT&T for some questionable infraction and have AT&T broken up by the courts. In 1984, AT&T, a.k.a. Ma Bell, was broken up into numerous Baby Bells. Today, AT&T is almost back to its former self, having taken over/back many of the Baby Bells, as well as already being the original long-distance division.

And then there was United States v. Microsoft, started in 1998. The core of this case was that Microsoft pretended its web browser, Internet Explorer, was an indivisible part of its operating system, Windows 95, so that other web browsers for Windows, like Netscape, sold separately, could not compete with Internet Explorer -- the first so-called Browser War. In 2001, after millions of dollars, the case was "settled", with the Department of Justice (DOJ) agreeing that Microsoft did not have to change any of its code and could continue to pretend its web browser was an indivisible part of its Windows operating system.

On 4 November 2020, the tumultuous day after the elections, Microsoft quietly and automatically downloaded the newest version of its web browser, Edge, on Windows 10 computers, made icons for it on the Desktop and in the Taskbar without permission, and made Edge automatically open upon login, forcing the user to try Edge before he could do anything else. (Admittedly, this was to combat, in the latest Browser War, monopolization of the web browser market by Google and its Chrome browser, which by default uses Google search.) Microsoft still pretends Edge is an indivisible part of Windows 10, even though Windows 10 also came with Internet Explorer, which can be removed. Thanks for nothing DOJ.

Incompetently, the attorneys general are suing Google for monopolizing search engines, not for monopolizing email. If you are smart and read Apscitu Mail articles, you will know that Google's monopolistic email, Gmail, poses a far greater threat to democracy and freedom than Google's search engine does to the market. (After much experience, I find that DuckDuckGo.com, a search engine that doesn't track you like Google does, and even Microsoft's Bing.com search engine, do a much better job than Google's search engine.)

Lawyers like attorneys general naturally use email a lot, particularly to strategize against their opponents, who if they knew about this strategizing could win far more easily. So you would rightfully expect that all -- if even one has insecure email, they all do -- the attorneys general in United States v. Google would make sure their email service was untouchable by Google. (They are accusing Google of as bad or worse, so should expect Google will read their emails if it can.) Nope.

The attorneys general of 11 states are joining the U.S. Attorney General in the lawsuit: Florida, Montana, Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, South Carolina, and Georgia. The attorneys general of the first 4 states use Proofpoint of Sunnyvale California, just minutes down the road from Google, for their email service. You will remember Proofpoint from the Apscitu Mail articles, Proofpoint Investigation: Fraud and Government Email Tampering and Net Neutrality: Who Controls the Communications of the Communications Controllers? Proofpoint competes with Gmail so only exists because Google allows it to and has the same strong left-wing liberal bias that Google has. Proofpoint is also IT incompetent and could easily be hacked by not just Google. In short, Google is probably reading the email of the attorneys general.

The U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice (DOJ) seem to have their own email service, although it is possible someone outside is actually providing it. I did some research into known funny business with DOJ email. In September 2019 I made an FOIA request to the DOJ for the email addresses of the 4 most recent U.S. Attorneys General. The pertinent part of the response was:
For your information, the official Department email account of the Attorney General does not use their name. This practice is consistent with that of former Attorneys General and protects the privacy and security of the Attorneys General, allowing them to conduct official business efficiently via email. Attorney General email account names are released once they are no longer in use, and in such circumstances, requesters are advised that the account denotes emails to or from the Attorney General. Attorney General emails account names in current use are protected pursuant to Exemption 6, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6), which pertains to information the release of which constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a third party. [Huh?!] ...

Accordingly, please be advised that Attorney General Holder used three email accounts during his tenure. Those accounts were "Henry.Yearwood@usdoj.gov," "David.Kendricks@usdoj.gov," and "Lew.Alcindor@usdoj.gov." To be clear, these accounts were used consecutively, in the order listed, and not simultaneously. Attorney General Lynch used the email account "Elizabeth.Carlisle@usdoj.gov." Attorney General Sessions used the email account "Camden.Hybart@usdoj.gov." As stated above, the email account currently in use by Attorney General Barr is being protected pursuant to Exemption 6 of the FOIA.
All the websites of the attorneys general also offer web form email, whose security depends on the security of the website. Incompetently, the official website of the Florida Attorney General is myfloridalegal.com. Government websites should be .gov domains, which only government organizations can get, not .com domains, which anyone, including hackers, can get ... and make a fake website. For example, the more official looking florida-ag.com is currently available for $12. (Amusingly, at the time of writing, the myfloridalegal.com website was offering a news release, Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Be Proactive.)

All these attorneys general and their lawyer underlings know nothing about IT so would need to consult with someone they believed did know about IT for cases against IT corporations. The obvious and easiest solution for them is to consult with their department's Chief Information Officer (CIO), if there is one, or the state CIO. However, as you will be able to predict from the Government IT Incompetents Hall Of Shame (ITIHOS) on the Stop IT Incompetence website, these will all be IT incompetent.

The CIO of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is Melinda Rogers . The most important IT credential for a CIO, or any claimed IT expert, is an IT education. Melinda Rogers only has a BS in economics and an MBA in marketing and finance. And if you are foolish enough to think experience is more important, before Rogers became DOJ CIO she was DOJ Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), during which time there were at least two serious DOJ data breaches, one of which started after a DOJ employee's email account was compromised. Before the DOJ, Rogers was assistant vice president for fraud detection at Equifax, whose IT incompetent data breaches are notorious. You can be sure even the illegal alien janitors at Google know more about IT than anyone at the Department of Justice.

The CIO of the Florida Office of the Attorney General is Doug Smith , who only has a bachelor's degree in economics. Nice job, Doug, on the email, Proofpoint, and official website, myfloridalegal.com, of the Florida Attorney General.

The CIO of Montana, who IT consults for the Montana Attorney General, is Tim Bottenfield , who only has a BS in forest management and an MS in forest biometrics. My family and I have already had a disastrous experience with IT incompetent government IT in Montana, having lived there for several years. When Obamacare (HealthCare.gov), itself an IT security fiasco (see HealthCare.gov Hacked), was implemented, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (MT DPHHS) provided the health insurance for children, including mine. In one of the largest data breaches at the time, MT DPHHS lost all their information -- names, ages, addresses, medical records, etc. -- to hackers.

The rest of the CIOs of the state attorneys general are just as IT incompetent ... and just as dangerous. Going on about their IT incompetence would just be tedious and depressing, even with the occasional hilarious forest manager CIO.

All these attorneys general should hire Apscitu Inc. to consult about IT; see Services & Consulting. If they still wanted to leave the lawsuit against Google only about search engines, and not include email as they should, I would still be the IT expert to consult.

I program all of my Apscitu, Apscitu Mail, and Stop IT Incompetence websites myself (see Websites: Simple is Smart, Secure, and Speedy and Web Programming for Innovative Social Networking Website Startup) and do my own webhosting, including domain name tasks like DNS.

With my previous websites -- but for security reasons not my mentioned Apscitu websites -- I have experience using Google Analytics, which lets users see much of the information about those accessing their websites that Google search probably uses to rank websites. For my mentioned Apscitu websites, I look through my own web access logs instead, where I regularly, often once or more a day, see the Google webcrawling robot going through my websites indexing them for use in Google search.

I regularly check my Google search rankings and have researched Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is just trying to outsmart Google search to get a higher ranking. The problem with SEO, and Google search as a monopoly, is that how Google search ranking is done is a secret known only to Google. Anyone who says they know how Google does it is lying, despite dozens of books on SEO and companies who do only SEO. This secrecy also means that you don't know if the low Google search ranking of your website is being caused by Google perceiving you to be politically incorrect or some other unfair competition reason.

The solution to Google search engine monopolization will not be simple -- simply breaking up Google, as done for AT&T and suggested for Microsoft, can not solve the problem -- and it will not be figured out by IT incompetents.