Were you upset about today’s brief Gmail outage? Well, imagine if it had been permanent—if Gmail had just plain gone away.
And not just Gmail, but all the rest of Google’s features: Search, Maps, Drive—everything. Imagine if Google went on strike.
You probably know people whose loss of Google’s services would be a form of justice — people who supported the FTC’s antitrust investigation of Google , or support the case European antitrust authorities are still pursuing . These are people who think it’s right for their governments to force Google to give them more benefits than the people who provide those services are willing to offer. They’re not satisfied with their free choice to accept Google’s free gifts or to decline them.
And imagine if it weren’t just Google. Imagine if Apple and Microsoft, also victims of the antitrust laws , went away. Without these three companies, would the government even be able to write antitrust briefs? Or would the government's antitrust lawyers just have to turn to the product of another company they've victimized: beer maker AB InBev ?
When people get used to a company’s services, they often start feeling entitled to them, as the Netflix outcry showed . But we’re not entitled to anyone else’s services, except on the terms that person is willing to offer. And in the long run, the person always, always has a choice, as Ladar Levison reminded us last summer when he closed his own, much smaller, email service.
Think about that the next time you consider forcing new restrictions on a business you depend on -- or anyone else. Today, we can assume, Google goofed. But what if Google quit?
- Our Atlas Shrugged section
- Alexander R. Cohen, How Antitrust Competes against Freedom
- Alexander R. Cohen, Give Thanks to Google