Google Glass FTC and Freedom of Speech

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 3.06.16 AM“The Citizens United ruling did however remove the previous ban on corporations and organizations using their treasury funds for direct advocacy. These groups were freed to expressly endorse or call to vote for or against specific candidates, actions that were previously prohibited”. – wikipedia article on a Supreme Court decision clearing the way for Corporations to exercise political and other public influence under the new ‘Constitutional rights’ of ‘free speech’, apparently.

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion[29] found that the BCRA §203 prohibition of all independent expenditures by corporations and unions violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The majority wrote, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech” – wikipedia

“‘Kennedy’s majority opinion’.. argued that the First Amendment protects associations of individuals in addition to individual speakers, and further that the First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker. Corporations, as associations of individuals, therefore have speech rights under the First Amendment. Because spending money is essential to disseminating speech, as established in Buckley v. Valeo, limiting a corporation’s ability to spend money is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of its members to associate effectively and to speak on political issues.”

“‘Kennedy’s majority opinion’.. also criticized Austin’s reasoning that the “distorting effect” of large corporate expenditures constituted a risk of corruption or the appearance of corruption. Rather, the majority argued that the government had no place in determining whether large expenditures distorted an audience’s perceptions, and that the type of “corruption” that might justify government controls on spending for speech had to relate to some form of “quid pro quo” transaction: “There is no such thing as too much speech.””

Apparently ‘too much speech’ was not a problem for Kennedy and the other Judges. But then explain how 100 million dollars of advertising in a small region can sway anyone to buy any product. Is the argument here then that ‘too much speech’ just never happens to contain falsehoods, misdirection and misguidance to the public. Did the Judges believe that spending 1 billion dollars on a properly crafted Public Relations effort has no inherent risks that need to be restricted. Is the author at Wikipedia slanted toward the this thinly 5-4 majority opinion?

This opinion apparently has opened the doors to money-driven politics and hiding corporate (or any wealthy group) influence the nation’s people improperly through whatever insidious means those corporate entities and groups decide. By awarding ‘free speech’ rights to corporations to do with money they’ve extracted from the people whatever they choose to do in advertising, political films, public campaigns and other ‘free speech’ powers.

The trouble that even the ordinary person can see in this is plain. First, aggregating billions of dollars and using that money to subtly influence voters and politicians under the pretense of ‘free speech’ is not the same as ‘too much speech’. Its ‘too influential speech’. The Court decided that money, lots of it, equals morality and honesty, period, since those favoring this opinion, granted first, Free Speech to Corporations and Groups –  and the aggregation of power under a corporate umbrella apparently to these Judges didn’t pose any risk to the Nation, or its individual Citizens. How in the world could a Judge believe the aggregate voice of 1 billion dollars is equal to 1 voice of 1 individual? Further, how could a Judge write “There is no such thing as too much speech.”  in that regard.

Well this story doesn’t end with Money gaining the ability to influence the economy and the regulation of the economy via government via so called ‘free speech’ rights for those who control trillions of dollars.

The story goes on to one of our most famous companies – Google. Stock price on Google today is $825 a share, a major run up in value, roughly doubling since 2008. Google started out as a Search Engine company, its simple and accurate Search results from the database it produced by scanning the Internet for web sites and collecting information about those web site’s contents, was *Popular*. Yahoo search was complicated. Altavista got lazy and did a poor job researching web sites so its search results didn’t hit the mark.

Google to simplicity of the interface – a simple one line box of text input from the user, and returned a page of search results, tagging any ‘ads’ as ‘ads’ or ‘sponsored’ information, gaining the public’s trust that the listing of search results was actually ordered according to the *most likely sites* that fit the search criteria the user entered. It worked. You could even exclude sites by entering a web site’s name that you knew was wrong for you.

Famously, Google promised to ‘do no evil’. For decades telephone companies knew their database of Businesses, searchable via 411 operators was a gold mine. Operators would enter search criteria from callers generally – “do have a listing for Bob’s Furniture”. But 411 info companies wanted to offer answers to “can you give me a listing for a good restaurant downtown?” .. and if a restaurant owner paid the 411 service provider they’d return the first service provider’s name in that list. Well, the Internet web search engines came along and upset those plans.

Google set into motion the idea that search results would be ‘fair’ and ‘ads’ would be separated on the search results page.

But the ugly truth is that Google’s search results are now ‘gamed’ for Google’s own interest. What Google’s interest is, is no one’s business but their own. Unlike the US Government’s requirement under the Freedom of Information Act, Google has no obligation to disclose information, because there is no Freedom of Information Act that applies to a Corporation. So we can never know how or why Google games search results.

This is the tip of an ugly iceberg. The results of 5 of the Supreme Court Justices awarding extremely wealthy groups unlimited influence in politics while protecting Google’s have ‘free speech’ to game search results easily brings on the the following search results:

“who is the best candidate for election this year?”
Google Search results could plausibly be:
“Bob Smith” – [the candidate that favors making it illegal to use any other search engine but Google]

I’m not sure what the Supreme Court Judges that voted to give more power to money and protect money from attack by stating “there is no such thing as too much speech”  were trying to accomplish. The overthrow of American government by Corporate and Money influence?

In my humble opinion the concept of aggregating billions of dollars under a corporate umbrella and then using that money to aggregate more power and more money is a spiral directly into hell. The notion that 1 individual has the right to speak freely is different than the right an individual with 1 trillion dollars has to speak freely. The historic assumption in our economy and our governments is that ‘money’ has in it, some justice, inherently. And historically, many of those who were lucky enough to extract that money from the public recognized their obligation to use that power wisely, and for the benefit of the public who they sourced that money from.

Today, in many areas, most recently in the post-consolation of all financial businesses – the merger of Insurance, Banking, Stock Brokerage businesses – is one example of run-away power.

Governments were formed by People to balance the greed and corruption inherent in the attempt to centralize capital (money) and its power over the people, with the better interests of the people.

If people’s best interest were demonstrated only by where they spend their money, then influencing that decision, by eliminating choice, by eliminating the regulation on presenting facts by offering Corporations ‘freedom of speech’ protection so they can present their products and service value ‘as fact’ (in their free speech rights) offers money and business unlimited self-interest, and unlimited extraction of wealth from the public. Insidiously, non-transparently and today with power to change the laws on which our society is based.

The issue the Supreme Court missed and Google has rushed in to enjoy for greater profits is simple: What is fair ? Its impossible for me to think a human being would consider it ‘fair’ to grant new rights to those few who control 80% of the country’s wealth and therefore power, pushing out of balance the representation of the interests of the public, toward the declaration of ‘if its paid for via business, it must be good for the public’. When did America go off the rails and the Court decide the only place where great thinking goes on, and where society’s best next changes come from is *business* and *money*?

Google Glass(es), equipped with a camera, transmitter and secret display, are on sale to special clients for $1500. They can record anything the wearer of these glasses sees via a tiny camera mounted on the side. Why? Its not clear, but Google is an advertising company and its stated goal is to collect and organize information. At first, this information came from web sites on the Internet. Today, it comes from individuals who are using the Internet, not from Web sites. The game Google entered, as a service to consumers by offering to locate what people wanted has been turned upside down and Google now provides Advertisers and other groups, with information about People using Google products and services. That is the money the powers Google, – selling information to advertisers and displaying their ads to users of Google’s products. The notion Google appears to believe is that they alone know what people want, what is good for them and they’ll now present those choices in a way Google has decided is *best* for the public. So the value Google recognizes is based not on the value of one person’s opinion, but the aggregate value of billions of people, diluting the influence one person has, unless they produce the aggregated money. Unless they store off search results that don’t match the billions and treat those differently. Perhaps, if Google’s ‘spiders’ that crawl the Internet looking for information come across something unique, they pause, collect that information, and submit it for ‘higher processing’, so if its genuinely unique, special interests can be alerted to this new information – the ‘source’ or person who produced that new knowledge, wisdom or information is ‘stripped’ from that information to ‘protect privacy’ and that golden nugget is moved up the Google food-chain to whomever should see it. Its likely something along those lines happens, but the people don’t know for certain. Google has rights. New ones and lots of them.

If America’s Judges believe individuals without money don’t have precisely the same freedom of speech that those with money do, People must question the sobriety of that decision, as its now manifesting itself in subtle and dangerous ways, as Google’s recent Federal Trade Commission crumbling statement that while yes, Google is gaming search results in Google’s own opaque interests, but the Supreme Court apparently says, that’s a Corporation just exercising its ‘free speech’. If you search for x32albl52nK will it bring up this article, uniquely? Today a Google search for that term returns:

Your search – x32albl52nK – did not match any documents.

Let’s see how this bit of opinion is ‘indexed’ in Google search land.


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