A recent report states that congressional antitrust investigators are looking into Google’s plans to use a new internet protocol which they worry could give the firm a competitive advantage by making it harder for others to access consumer data.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the House Judiciary Committee asked Google in a letter this month to provide information about its “decision regarding whether to adopt or promote the adoption” of a new Internet protocol which many worry could give the firm a competitive advantage.
The new protocol will be standard and is aimed at improving Internet security, according to Google’s parent company Alphabet. House investigators are now questioning whether data collected or processed through the new protocol will be used by Google for commercial purposes. The DOJ is reportedly aware of concerns and has already received complaints related to it.
Many cable and wireless companies are worried that the new standard protocol could alter the Internet’s competitive landscape. They worry that they are being shut out of much user data if browser users move entirely over to this new encrypted protocol which many Internet service providers don’t currently support.
Andy Ellis, the chief security officer at Akamai Technologies which provides internet services to corporations but doesn’t support the new standard, commented on the new protocol stating: “Right now, each internet service provider has insight into the traffic of their users, and that’s going to shift” as a result of the change.
The new standard is modernizing a fundamental element of the Internet known as the Domain Name System (DNS) which takes a user’s request for a website and, similar to a telephone book, provides the series of Internet protocol address numbers used by computers. Google commented on the new standard stating: “Google has no plans to centralize or change people’s DNS providers to Google by default. Any claim that we are trying to become the centralized encrypted DNS provider is inaccurate.”
A coalition of internet service providers said in a letter to lawmakers on September 19: “Because the majority of world-wide internet traffic…runs through the Chrome browser or the Android operating system, Google could become the overwhelmingly predominant DNS lookup provide. Google would acquire greater control over user data across networks and devices around the world. This could inhibit competitors and possibly foreclose competition in advertising and other industries.”
A spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee stated that the panel has “heard from stakeholders on all sides of this issue” and is following it closely.