With my new computer, I receive unsolicited on-screen messages from the Washington Post and New York Times, alerting me to news flashes they think credible and important for me to view immediately.
The computer appears programmed to do this automatically. But such represents an agreement with Macintosh that I should get very left-leaning news first. Is this one of the subliminal message techniques Robert Epstein was speaking of in his July 16 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution?
In this hearing, evidence was provided that Big Tech, notably Google, and subliminal messaging techniques moved between 2.6 and 10.4 million votes to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Epstein predicted that in 2020 "if all these companies are supporting the same candidate [as they did in 2016] there are 15 million votes on the line that can be shifted without peoples' knowledge and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace."
The previous April, the subcommittee had questioned witnesses from Facebook and Twitter. But any serious examination of Big Tech censorship would have to include Google.
Subcommittee chair Ted Cruz summarized the depth of the problem: "Google's control over what people hear, watch, read and say is unprecedented. Almost 90% of Internet searches today use Google. Google's domination of the search engine market is so complete that 'to Google' is now a commonplace verb. With that market power, Google can, and often does, control our discourse... Every time we search on Google we see only the Web pages that Google decides we should see; in the order that Google decides we should see them. Type a few letters into the search bar and Google will tell you what you should be looking for."
He continued: "The same is true of Google's subsidiary, YouTube, the second most visited web page in existence... And when you submit a video, people at YouTube determine whether you've engaged in so-called hate speech; an ever-changing and vague stance meant to give censorship an air of legitimacy. This is a staggering amount of power to ban speech, to manipulate search results, to destroy rivals, and to shape culture."
Not surprisingly, Google's parent organization, Alphabet, was the number one financial supporter of Hillary Clinton in 2016.
But Google's power is worldwide, Epstein told the committee. Google has a "massive surveillance operation, censorship capabilities and unprecedented ability to manipulate the thinking of 2.5 billion people, soon to be 4 plus billion." We add, if unchecked it could come to control every human on earth. Presently Google's closest competitor is Microsoft's Bing at 2.5% of the market (Robert Epstein, "To Break Googles' Monopoly on Search, Make its Index Public," Business Week, July 15, 2019).
Epstein told the committee, "I know how to stop Big Tech in its tracks."
He recommended two big changes. The first, because these companies support the same presidential candidate and can shift up to 15 million votes in their candidate's direction, Big Tech must be monitored. Since 2015, he has been developing technology "to capture on-line 'ephemeral experiences'" which he tested successfully the next year and which has increased in sophistication each year since. He expects to be ready for the 2020 presidential race fully capable of catching "Big Tech in the act, to instantly spot when Facebook is biased in newsfeeds or when Twitter is suppressing tweets sent by Ann Colter or Elizabeth Warren." He added: "To let Big Tech get away with subliminal manipulation on this scale would be to make the free and fair election meaningless."
Second, "Congress can quickly end Google's worldwide monopoly on search by declaring Google's massive search index, the database the company uses to generate search results, to be a public commodity accessible by all. Just as a 1956 consent decree forced AT&T to share all its patents. There is a precedent in both law and Google's business practices to justify taking this step, which will make on-line search competitive again and dramatically diminish Google's power or rise."
Google already shares this massive index with the Netherlands-based company, Startpage, this "in return for fees generated by ads placed near Startpage search results." This makes Startpage an acceptable replacement for Google primarily because you get "great search results, but with a difference. Google tracks your searches and also monitors you in other ways, so it gives you personalized results. Startpage doesn't track you -- it respects and guarantees your privacy -- so it gives you generic results."
Epstein also recommended DuckDuckGo "which aggregates information obtained from 400 other non-Google sources, including its own modest crawler" (To Break Googles's Monopoly).
But Epstein uses the Startpage model to show what would happen if Google's massive index becomes public property. Perhaps hundreds of other startups would in time surface, restoring competition to the information arena.
Google has 16 data centers, so Congress could only make public domain of the eight in the United States. Other countries where centers exist would have to do the same to break the monopoly. The European Union has five. Since they had to levy $8 billion in fines against Google in 2017, they might be tempted to be first to make the index public domain (Ibid.).
Free elections in any country mandate the free availability of all information.
Harold W. Pease, Ph.D., is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for more than 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 12/18/2019