Friday, May 28, 2004

California Senate vs. Google - it's a shakedown.

So, the California Senate actually voted to restrict gmail. To quote from the CNN article:
The bill by Democratic state Sen. Liz Figueroa would require Gmail to work only in real-time and would bar the service from producing records.

The bill also would bar Gmail form collecting personal information from e-mails and giving any information to third parties.

What does it all mean? A lot of people are reacting as if the proposal were a well-intentioned mistake, a misguided attempt to help the public put forth by well-meaning politicians. What nonsense!

It's a shakedown.

Senator Figueroa noticed that Google is about to have a huge pile of money and hadn't planned on giving any of it to local politicians, by which I mean her and her friends. Legislators propose regulating an industry primarily in order to get that industry to cough up campaign contributions. Of course this bill does nothing to protect consumers -- that's not its real goal! The real goal is simply to make sure that a big chunk of the $2.7 billion raised in the IPO gets into Liz Figueroa's pocket.

The sad thing is that it'll probably work. Once Google gets the message and hires a few political consultants to spread some green around, the problem will go away.

For a while.

But once you have paid the Dane-gold, you never get rid of the Dane, so only an ongoing program of regular contributions will keep harebrained schemes like this from seeing the light of day and/or limit the damage done by the ones that actually turn into law.

Is anyone else reminded of the Microsoft antitrust trial?


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