The Washington Post reports that, amid a number of other controversies and regulatory actions and examinations fixated on Google, the Trump administration is, in the words of economic adviser Larry Kudlow, “taking a look” at the prospect of regulating Google and its eponymous search engine.
The statement by Kudlow comes amid a broader controversy surrounding the internet giant – one that crosses geographic boundaries and extends into Europe, for example – over how searches are conducted and presented to users.
In the latest salvo, the Kudlow remarks, according to The Post, put Google “squarely in the White House’s crosshairs” about how search results and social media may or may not be skewed against conservatives.
The economic adviser’s statement also comes Tuesday after a series of tweets from President Trump that stated Google’s search results showed only “the viewing/reporting of Fake New [sic] Media.” Stated Trump via tweet: “Illegal? 96 percent of results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation – will be addressed!”
It is that “will be addressed” that implied some further examination, with no further elaboration.
The company fired back a statement that said the searches are free of bias, noting that “when users type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds. Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”
In later remarks, the president said outside a meeting, as reported by The Post: “I think Google is really taking advantage of a lot of people. And I think that’s a very serious thing, and it’s a very serious charge. … We have literally thousands and thousands of complaints coming in. And you just can’t do that. So I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory. And they have to be careful. It’s not fair to large portions of the population.”
Adding Insult to Injury?
The latest news comes after headlines last week stated that the company might be hit with a class-action lawsuit and examination by the Federal Trade Commission, with an eye on location tracking activities. As has been noted, the company has been cited for storing user locations, even when location-based offerings have been turned off. The practices may in fact violate a seven-year-old agreement with the FTC. A lawsuit has been filed in San Diego against the firm alleging that the company violated the Privacy Act in that state.
And that controversy comes after the European Union fined the company over its Android dominance, levying a $5 billion fine, a record in antitrust cases. The fine comes amid findings that pre-loading the search engine and apps gave Google a competitive advantage over rivals.