05.20.20

Even If Google Deserves Government Scrutiny Over Abuses Against Privacy (and Beyond) We Must Not Discount Microsoft’s Role

Posted in Antitrust, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Playing games of “lesser evilism” (knowing both options are harmful)

Lesser evilism

Summary: Antitrust action against Google may well be what Google’s behaviour merits, but we must not forget the role played by Microsoft, trying to get regulators off its back and paint Google as the worst devil of all (while the greatest enemy of Software Freedom undoubtedly remains Microsoft, which now controls GitHub and bribes/infiltrates key institutions including the Linux Foundation)

THE “[D]EVIL YOU DON’T KNOW…”

We live in a world of “lesser evils” with a political sphere/arena where voters are encouraged to vote for pre-approved (by Power) supposed ‘not-so-evils’… to get rid of the ‘greater evil’…

“And Microsoft is still attacking Free software, including GNU/Linux.”So… what about Google anyway? What has it ever done for us, the Free software movement? Not much. A fair bit of harm and a little of benefit…

Forget about GSoC slush funds; it can be seen as marginally beneficial to GNU/Linux and to cross-platform projects like LibreOffice, having to adopt and train inexperienced developers, but to Google (in their view) it’s a cheap PR stunt that helps ‘pacify’ potential critics.

Does that mean Google is mostly benign? Hell no.

But is Google a threat to GNU/Linux? Not exactly, perhaps hardly so…

See, it’s difficult to find examples throughout history where Google actively and directly fought or even undermined Free software. Sure, it pushed proprietary software and “services” (SaaS) that could replace Free software. Many of those were all along based on Free software and Google didn’t pay agencies to run FUD campaigns against the Free software options.

“Google has the Gentoo-based (or derived) ChromeOS, which also has Crouton (still Microsoft-hosted unfortunately) and nowadays Crostini in Chromium OS.”That was Microsoft. Microsoft did that all the time. Microsoft still does this. Watch what happened to the “Open Source” news earlier this month (Black Duck and all that).

And Microsoft is still attacking Free software, including GNU/Linux.

Look no further than this week’s nonsensical and highly misleading announcements from Microsoft, which boil down to googlebombing and — as an associate of ours put it — EEE tactics. He characterised that as “Windows-only “Linux” graphical programs… EEE now reached the second E… Microsoft tried before to inject a broken version of DirectX into the distros this is now in their own distro…”

Google has the Gentoo-based (or derived) ChromeOS, which also has Crouton (still Microsoft-hosted unfortunately) and nowadays Crostini in Chromium OS. Those are not really helping GNU/Linux; they co-opt it, but users typically have the option to wipe Chrome OS and replace that with a proper GNU/Linux at no charge (not even Windows/Microsoft tax).

So, we’re definitely not defending Google; but in some senses, as far as Software Freedom goes, it’s safe to call it the “lesser evil”…

“Thankfully Uber seem to be going away (too big a loss to be worth subsidising for much longer).”Necessary evil? No! We’re rather have a world with neither Google nor Microsoft (heck, get rid of GAFAM as a whole). Those monopolies or oligopolies (at best) with their social control media and all those surveillance (disguised as “communication”) tools are more like data-harvesting operations. Add Twitter, Spotify and Netflix to the mix. It’s not the communication/transmission that’s the operative model/business model but control of the communications. Budget devoted for militaristic imperialism is set aside and funneled into these on occasions. Thankfully Uber seem to be going away (too big a loss to be worth subsidising for much longer).

Now, back to Google…

Microsoft’s role in regulatory action against Google (at least in Europe less than a decade ago) was well documented here, as well as in Groklaw. It was almost a decade ago; it has not stopped since, we just don’t observe it so closely anymore. Prior to that we had also demonstrated that many groups and people who prominently spoke against Google were in fact Microsoft funded and often nothing but front groups. Microsoft’s idea of creating alternative ‘scapegoats’ to keep regulators off its back is hardly a new plot. It goes back well over a decade ago. This tactic is used a lot not just in the technology sector.

“Microsoft’s idea of creating alternative ‘scapegoats’ to keep regulators off its back is hardly a new plot.”I’d probably be the last to defend Google’s practices, in particular with regards to privacy (there are several other troubling aspects). But that does not mean that it’s inappropriate to point out Google antitrust serves to distract from Microsoft’s greater abuses, disguised using a thin veil of “Microsoft loves something” (which it actually hates and combats) du jour.

For those uncertain about Microsoft’s role in siccing regulators on Google, here are some older articles of relevance, sorted by year (chronologically):

2020

2019

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

There are more (about twice as many), but these may do for now…

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