• Law, Policy -- and IT?

    Tracy Mitrano explores the intersection where higher education, the Internet and the world meet (and sometimes collide).


Our Ball, Our Game, Our Rule

Policy shorts.

September 8, 2014

Here are a couple of Internet Policy Shorts. First on the list is the brouhaha over the European Commission’s Google settlement. The New York Times reports that renewed criticism from competitors has contributed to a delay in the outgoing Commissioner’s decision.

Google has a 90% market share for search in Europe, about 25% more than it has in the United States. The Commission’s review of anti-competitive practices revealed favoritism of Google or its customers’ services and products.  The question of how much Google should pay remains at issue.  This after the ruling on the “right to be left alone” took effect this summer.  

One of the replies to a reader’s comment defending Google intrigued me.

Corporations are legal constructs that exist only via frameworks that are intended to benefit society at large. They were not handed down on stone tablets somewhere in the vicinity of a burning bush. Societies (that's us) are free to turn the dials on the frameworks if they don't like the outcomes of the current setup. Our ball, our game, our rules.

So the other day, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal with whom I have corresponded before on the work of Judge Koh, San Jose District Court, asked me for a comment on the Writ that Internet titans Adobe, Apple, Google and Intel have brought to object to her rejection of the settlement offer they came to regarding fixed labor practices.  Judge Koh stands at the top of my list of people to watch for her intelligent, no-nonsense approach to some of the most important questions of Internet law today.  She presides over this labor case, intellectual property (patent) and the Gmail litigation cases, among others.  (Here is a recent article about her from the San Francisco Chronicle.)

Why is this labor case important?  Because it sets not only a precedent for labor law in the Internet industry, but for the much larger policy issue of the rule of law among Internet titans and the global information economy that they have helped to create.  Like the guy said, “Societies (that’s us) are free to turn the dials on the frameworks if they don’t like the outcomes of the current set up.  Our ball, our game, our rule.”

What do you think?


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