When You Can't Innovate, You Litigate: Oracle Gleefully Takes Credit For Attacks On Section 230 And Google

from the shameful dept

A few weeks ago, Oracle announced that it was moving its headquarters out of Redwood Shores, in the middle of Silicon Valley, to Austin, Texas. The move is more symbolic than anything else. The company told employees they can continue working from wherever they want and founder Larry Ellison sent an email to all employees saying he’ll be working from the island of Lanai, which he purchased a few years ago. But the symbolism of the move works in multiple ways. Despite being founded and headquartered in Silicon Valley for almost half a century, Oracle has long represented the anti-Silicon Valley approach to innovation.

Nearly a decade ago, cartoon artist Manu Cornet made this truly classic cartoon image of tech company org charts (which he thankfully put under a Creative Commons license):

I’ve heard people at all of those companies more or less confirm the accuracy of every one of those. The Oracle one is particularly on point:

For a while now, people in Silicon Valley have been well aware of Oracle’s reputation as the anti-innovation behemoth, especially following its attack on APIs, interfaces, and how software is developed with the case against Google’s reimplementation of the Java API. We’re still waiting on how the Supreme Court rules on that one, to see whether or not Oracle has succeeded in undermining a key part of how software is developed — including Oracle’s own practices in reimplementing others’ APIs.

Bloomberg now has a big report on how all of the recent antitrust cases against Google have Oracle’s fingerprints all over them, and in the article, Oracle’s top lobbyist gleefully takes credit for it.

What’s less known is that Oracle Corp. spent years working behind the scenes to convince regulators and law enforcement agencies in Washington, more than 30 states, the European Union, Australia and at least three other countries to rein in Google’s huge search-and-advertising business. Those efforts are paying off.

Officials in more than a dozen of the states that sued Google received what has been called Oracle?s ?black box? presentation showing how Google tracks users? personal information, said Ken Glueck, Oracle?s top Washington lobbyist and the architect of the company?s antitrust campaign against Google. Glueck outlined for Bloomberg the presentation, which often entails putting an Android phone inside a black briefcase to show how Google collects users? location details ? even when the phones aren?t in use ? and confirmed the contours of the pressure campaign.

?I couldn?t be happier,? said Glueck about the barrage of lawsuits. ?As far as I can tell, there are more states suing Google than there are states.?

The thing is, Oracle more or less admits that it’s doing this purely out of spite and the fact that it has failed to innovate and keep up with more nimble and innovative competitors. Oracle and Larry Ellison made some big bets early on that flopped. And rather than correct course and innovate, it has focused on what we’ve referred to as political entrepreneurship: lobbying and using the powers of government to shut down competitors, rather than innovate.

As many of us suspected, but is now confirmed by the article, Oracle is also a key player in trying to dismantle Section 230:

Oracle was one of the first companies to push Congress to adopt an anti-sex-trafficking measure in Congress, not because it was critical to its business but because Oracle knew it could hurt Google, according to a person familiar with the matter. The legislation weakened legal liability protections for tech companies such as Google from lawsuits over user-generated content in sex-trafficking cases.

Again, as many of us long knew, but didn’t have public confirmation of, Oracle plays dirty in trying to smear anyone defending the open internet:

It?s also a master at stealth lobbying tactics, such as digging up dirt on competitors, disseminating opposition research and supporting dark-money groups that publicize negative findings about rivals.

In the article, it also points out that Oracle hired a firm to pay cleaning staff at a research group that wrote reports Oracle didn’t like to rifle through the organization’s trash to dig up dirt.

The article also confirms our earlier reporting about how Oracle execs sucking up to Trump, and Oracle’s ability to label other companies’ execs as saying anti-Trump stuff, was the key to it landing the TikTok deal:

Oracle won some battles after fostering ties to President Donald Trump. Oracle Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz and Glueck were part of Trump?s transition team. Catz advised the president on trade policy and serves on the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

Those ties may have proven fruitful when Microsoft was in pole position to acquire the U.S. operations of TikTok, the popular video app that Trump ordered its Chinese owner to sell. When TikTok picked Oracle as its preferred partner, after a phone call with Executive Chairman Larry Ellison, the president backed Oracle?s last-minute bid for a minority stake in the app as part of a deal that?s pending approvals.

As the article highlights, Oracle’s revenue has continued to remain steady while all the tech companies it attacks politically have continued to thrive. And the reason for that is that those companies have built better products, while Oracle… hasn’t. Instead, it’s taken the tried and trued losers’ approach. If you can’t innovate, litigate. Or, in this case, rig the political system for favors. It’s shameful.

Of course, what the Bloomberg report mostly leaves out is how much of this actually harms innovation and competition in the long run. We’ve already pointed out just how insanely short-sighted Oracle’s API copyright case is. If you want to actually undermine Google’s market share, making sure that others can reimplement its APIs is key. And while Oracle’s cloud business is way behind leaders like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, one of these days, someone in Oracle’s giant legal and lobbying team is going to wake up and remember that Section 230 protects its cloud business too.

But, of course, Oracle would rather set fire to the entire internet than realize it needs to innovate.

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Companies: google, oracle

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Comments on “When You Can't Innovate, You Litigate: Oracle Gleefully Takes Credit For Attacks On Section 230 And Google”

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Just Another Masnick Monday - LATE and WRONG says:

You overlook CAUSE: "Google tracks users' personal information,

to show how Google collects users’ location details – even when the phones aren’t in use

GOOGLE is just one of the commercial fronts for the surveillance state. Universal spying by corporations is part of Masnick’s corporatist agenda. That’s why he’s again defending the main SPY corp.

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Just Another Masnick Monday - LATE and WRONG says:

Re: Oracle: A law firm that also employs some other people

Nothing says that you know you can compete in a fair and open market like working overtime to sabotage your competitors via laws and smear campaigns.

GOOGLE is proven to have done much — with its hidden means, out of sight so unknown to the public — to swing the election to Clinton and then Biden.

GOOGLE is also big on surveilling persons to allow gov’t to control them, and directly itself by using S230 to "moderate" according to internal corporate-made up rules, not common law, not open, not fair.

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Just Another Masnick Monday - LATE and WRONG says:

GOOGLE is "innovative" mainly at SPYING ON THE PUBLIC.

It has perhaps thousands of people watching and "analyzing" online activity and hundreds more trying to figure out and implement new ways of gathering and collating information on everyone — all of which it supplies to gov’t / law enforcement (not just US) for small fee. Snowden says GOOGLE gives NSA "direct access".

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Just Another Masnick Monday - LATE and WRONG says:

Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's interest!

Oracle more or less admits that it’s doing this purely out of spite

SO? It aligns with my and I believe The Public’s interest to start putting some limits on "surveillance capitalism", and particularly GOOGLE.

Masnick is attacking Oracle for being honest! Because honesty and limiting spying both enrage Masnick!

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Usayed Watt says:

Re: Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's intere

Toom1275 Asserts facts not in evidence right after using that idiot phrase above.

I can’t PROVE anything to you kids no matter well sourced! YOU are incorrigible. Why should I bother to link? You won’t even read it, let alone change position.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I can’t PROVE anything to you kids no matter well sourced!

You could help your credibility by citing sources with more credibility than even Breitbart. You could also help yourself by not insulting everyone right off the bat and assuming we’re not open to well-reasoned, well-sourced, and well-written dissent. (The comments on my two columns on this site should prove as much.) He who gets angry first loses — and you lose a hell of a lot around here without even trying.

But I know you’ll only insult me in reply, as if that’s supposed to make me angry. All it really does, Brainy, is make me wonder how sad your meatspace life must be if your idea of “fun” is trolling the same tech blog for a decade because someone once insulted you so mildly that even Satan yawned at them.

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Usayed Watt says:

Re: Re: Re: Yet aligns with my and I believe The Public's intere

The censoring and blocking has set in on good ol’ "free speech" Techdirt that’s NOT open and fair, but a cheaty corporatist and globalist who advocates surveillance capitalism — and enabled by statute, fully fascist.

I’m just showing up for fun. Those who know reality stay away from Techdirt by the thousands, at least.

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Anonymous Coward says:

When you cease to innovate make donations to politicians to break the Internet. Reduce competition . Attack Google and other Companys who provide services that people want to use
Oracle also uses api, s from other Companys
No other company has gone to court seeking payment for using
an api 1000s of company’s use apis to make their software work on other platforms
We have seen this pattern from old Companys that cannot innovate use the courts or politicians to attack other Companys
Since oracle is not a media company they don’t care about section 230

Federico (profile) says:

purely out of spite

The thing is, Oracle more or less admits that it’s doing this purely out of spite and the fact that it has failed to innovate and keep up with more nimble and innovative competitors.

Yes, but also because they hope to take Google’s place in dominating the AdTech business. That’s all they’ve "invested" on in the last decade or so, with billions spent on acquisitions. Oracle’s bet is probably that, if they conquer that shady market of data trading, they’ll be less exposed to regulatory attacks and might enjoy a semi-monopoly for decades. How many people have heard or remember IAB? Yet everyone complains about Google Ads.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Oracle isn't buying TikTok

https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/14/21436035/tiktok-oracle-deal-bytedance-president-trump-safety

That having been said, Larry Ellison is a piece of ****. He doesn’t pass my "Patio Test". In simple words, if he came down my driveway he’d be told to turn around and go away, and not allowed on the patio.

There are lots of good people. Larry and Oracle are not.

CDA Section 230, Google, Facebook, non-copyrightable-APIs/ABIs are all good things. Larry ****inc Ellison is not.

Feel free to replace the asterisks with your epithet of choice. Mine rhymes with "duck".

E

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