Microsoft Hires Key Anti-Google FTC Lawyer To Be Its New Chief Anti-Google Lobbyist

from the paying-a-little-too-much-attention-to-the-competition dept

There’s something a little… disturbing about how gleefully Microsoft seems to want to sic antitrust regulators on Google. Given that the company went through its own long antitrust battle, you’d think that it would know better than to continually invoke the government’s antitrust legal beagles against others. Instead, it seems to have taken the position that if it had to go through the antitrust rollers for so long, why shouldn’t other successful companies. We’ve noted in the past Microsoft’s fingerprints showing up on bizarre and silly antitrust claims against Google — which have so far gone nowhere — but Microsoft seems really intent on saddling Google with a long and costly antitrust battle. I guess Microsoft thinks it’s easier to fight Google that way than, you know, actually innovating and competing in the marketplace. It’s pretty sad just how anti-innovation these efforts are.

Either way, Microsoft appears to be stepping up its “saddle Google with antitrust charges” battle by hiring Randall Long from the FTC. Long was the key “anti-Google” lawyer within the FTC, who led multiple antitrust investigations into Google, and recommended that the FTC block Google’s acquisition of AdMob (something he was outvoted on). Microsoft doesn’t even seem to want to hide the fact that his role will be to lobby politicians in DC to hit Google with antitrust charges. The WSJ’s report on the hiring is pretty explicit:

As part of his new job, Mr. Long will likely continue those efforts before the FTC and other agencies, a person familiar with the matter said.

Of course, if Long actually follows the rules, he shouldn’t be allowed to do anything concerning any FTC investigations into Google for quite some time. The ethics rules are pretty clear — even barring “behind-the-scenes” help on such investigations:

Except as provided in this section, or otherwise specifically authorized by the Commission, no former member or employee (“former employee” or “employee”) of the Commission may communicate to or appear before the Commission, as attorney or counsel, or otherwise assist or advise behind-the-scenes, regarding a formal or informal proceeding or investigation

That certainly suggests that Long cannot and should not “continue those efforts before the FTC” for some time. Either way, it’s yet another example of the questionable revolving door between government and the private sector, where ex-government officials end up in roles that have a very close connection to their former government role (or vice versa). Even assuming that Long follows all the rules, as I’m sure he intends to do, this kind of thing just looks really bad.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: google, microsoft

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Microsoft Hires Key Anti-Google FTC Lawyer To Be Its New Chief Anti-Google Lobbyist”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
MrWilson says:


You beat me to it!

I was going to saying: [insert obvious troll remark about how Microsoft is just hiring someone with relevant knowledge and experience for the position that completely ignores that there is even a possibility of something being ethically wrong with this hiring, because everyone knows that ethics get in the way of profit]

But your straight-faced parody of the absurdity of the usual troll position on the revolving door works really well too.

You were joking, right? 🙂

John Lenihan (profile) says:

Microsoft vs Google

Microswift has money to burn harassing Google, but little to spend taking care of their real business. Yesterday, their new cloud app failed because they didn’t know it was leap year!

Last year their SW failed on the London Stock Exchange, making Linux obligatory for Exchanges. The more incompetent they get, the more childish they act.

Anonymous Coward says:

toothless regulations

Those rules state this guy could be “suspended, reprimanded, or disbarred” by his buddies and former cow-orkers at the FTC. None of which would prevent him from doing his new job, lobbying. And none of which is likely to happen, anyway. Laws for the rest of us tend to have teeth, but this code is no more likely to cause him problems than what we’ve seen for bankers.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Watching the war from all sides

It used to be that Microsoft had all the power. Now Apple, Google, and Facebook are in the mix, all fighting each other for one reason or another.

It does make me think that big public (or soon to be public) companies behave in certain ways, no matter what the industry. I don’t view the big tech companies as looking out for my interests any more than I view Walmart or McDonald’s looking out for my interests. When it’s all said and done, a lot happens to keep Wall Street happy. You need those quarterly numbers to look good to keep those stock prices high.

I’m hoping that all these battles keep these big companies in check. I don’t want any of them to become so big they can’t be taken down a bit.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Watching the war from all sides

As I read the various tech bloggers, some are unbiased, but others definitely favor one of the big players over the others. It gets really interesting reading who is justifying which company’s actions.

This article, by Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO at Box, touches upon one coming war.

Google Drive And The Cloud Wars | TechCrunch: “So get ready for a number of years of absolute rock-your-world style competition among major players fighting for your content and the cloud. Every photo you upload, every song you listen to, every video your capture. These guys want it. With around $200B in cash between Microsoft, Apple, and Google alone, cost is no issue; they see your data as the center of their universe. They?ll probably get it. I?m just happy to be swimming in enterprise waters.”

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Watching the war from all sides

I’ll add that I think the big players are going to use whatever weapons they have to battle each other: media influence, lawsuits, lobbying, and anything else they can use to win an advantage. While in the past they may have been carving out separate fiefdoms, now they are converging on each other’s businesses. Plus they have the financial resources to play these games for awhile.

Anonymous Coward says:

I remember that antitrust stuff. But Microsoft actually broke the law and ripped off a bunch of technology. Compression, tons of algorithms. They made promises to developers they broke “Pay us 3,000.00 a year for our development package and we will never compete on the software market.” BULL and double BULL, ask Word Perfect (who?) and the other software houses they brought down with Microsoft Office! Also they have buggy products and as far as I’m concerned Internet Explorer is an extremely inferior product constantly running out of memory and it just crashes with any more than 5 tab open. What a developer nightmare to have to write 8 lines of code to account for Internet Exploder and only 1 line of code to account for the other browsers. What a joke! Microsoft products have turned into nothing but nagware that you have to pay for. I spent a whole day just turning off stuff because the idiots that designed it think everybody’s stupid like all of their friends. They put 20,000 nags into their product. Someone in their design department should get a copy of RedHat or CentOS 6 which does everything Windows, Windows Server do combined. Plus they are free with all the free software ever produced. Crazy. We only have 2 machines left with Windows on them and pretty soon that will be and remain only 1.

As to Google they have never asked me for a dime. They Give me Code, free OS’s (Android), free Microsoft work arounds and a cool website. They give me an HTML 5 and CSS3 browser that is completely compliant for free. This is a beautiful thing. They are even developing new apps and programming interfaces for the web. FREE! How can you fault these guys. Sure they are a big and bad corporation and their support sucks (non-existent) but they do the web community a great service. jQuery wouldn’t even exist under a Microsoft world. It became possible because of Google and the great help they give coders by hosting and making available the Google Code site. When was the last time Microsoft gave anything away?

Attorney (user link) says:

If you have been accused of taking someone else’s personal information, you need to know that it is vital that you hire an identity theft defense attorney. Whether or not you are guilty, these are very serious accusations and carry strict penalties and fines. In fact, this is considered a federal offense, and thus you need a lawyer with experience in federal crimes.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...