On Oct. 29, four years and a day after then-FBI Director James Comey declared he had re-opened the Hillary Clinton email case, the Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed another bombshell right before the 2020 election.
The DOJ reportedly acknowledged that the FBI opened an investigation into Hunter Biden more than a year earlier. Agents had allegedly looked into the financial deals Hunter—and according to emails on a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter, possibly his father—had engaged in with China, Ukraine, and other foreign governments.
But unlike the Hillary announcement, which Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com says clinched the election for Trump, the Hunter Biden laptop saga made little difference. Major media intentionally ignored the story, and Big Tech silenced and censored the discussion on social media.
If Joe Biden survives the various investigations into vote fraud and becomes president, he won’t be able to count on this happening again.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order in May that called for free speech on social media platforms under penalty of losing its liability protections. His Federal Communications Committee (FCC) chairman, Ajit Pai, recently announced that his department would codify the order into a regulation that carries the force of law before the next administration takes over.
The executive order, of course, could be reversed by Biden should he become president. Still, if an agency such as the FCC codifies it into a regulation, as Pai is attempting to do before Jan. 20, it will be much more difficult to overturn. Making a change would require justification, a lengthy public comment period, and withstanding public and political backlash during the extensive in-between period.
Many analysts have made the point that Google’s response and inherent bias may have swayed millions of votes for Biden. But because of other Trump administration actions, Google might not be the seemingly protective force for Biden and the Democrats as it has been in the past either.
On Oct. 20, the DOJ and 11 state attorneys general filed an antitrust complaint against Google that could lead to the company being broken into smaller parts, a la the Bell telephone system in the early 1970s and Standard Oil before that.
Google has said it plans to answer the charges in the lawsuit by Dec. 21 and go to trial soon thereafter. Given how far down the field the Trump administration has already brought the charges, the Biden administration will have little luck altering the tech giant’s fate, given how bound to institutional precedent the DOJ typically is.
Compounding Google’s problem is that the case can’t be stopped now without the courts raising questions about its meddling. The new conservative majority, provided by Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, seems ready to assert itself on these matters.
We know this from the remarks of several justices at recent oral arguments in the seemingly endless case of Google v. Oracle. Oracle asserts—and Google concedes—that Google took from Oracle’s Java system to create its Android cellphone interface, a move that has arguably netted Google billions and billions of dollars.
The new conservative block had much to say, none of it good in response to Google’s contention that the code wasn’t copyrightable and couldn’t have been obtained any other way.
“I’m concerned that, under your argument, all computer code is at risk of losing protection,” Justice Samuel Alito said. Others “have managed to innovate their way around” stealing code, said Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first appointee to the Supreme Court. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, his second, added: “You’re not allowed to copy a song just because it’s the only way to express that song. Why is that principle not at play here?”
The high court’s understanding of the predatory, unconstitutional ways Google obtained its market share, including, but not limited to, ostensible IP theft, certainly won’t bode well for any protests the tech giant attempts to make to the DOJ’s monopoly charges.
Big Tech was a valuable asset to Biden in this cycle. It both limited the reach of conservative messages and magnified those of the left. For no major media outlets to report on a major party candidate’s son being under investigation for allegedly shady deals with foreign governments a week before the election is tantamount to a massive in-kind campaign contribution.
But because of the efforts of the current White House, it’s clear that the days of limited tech accountability will soon be gone. Whether he leaves in two months or four years, Trump’s legacy will include loosening the hold Google has on the information we receive and our ability to comment on it.
Joe Biden may not like this, and the 72 million people who voted for Trump likely will have plenty to say about his administration should it ever come to that. But there won’t be much he can do about it.
Michael J. Daugherty is CEO of The Cyber Education Foundation and founder of The Justice Society. He is author of “The Devil Inside the Beltway: The Shocking Expose of the US Government’s Surveillance and Overreach Into Cyber-security, Medicine, and Small Business.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.