Representative Tulsi Gabbard filed a federal lawsuit charging Google with infringing on her free speech because the tech giant suspended the Hawaiian candidate’s campaign advertising account in the immediate hours following the first presidential Democratic debate in June.
The blackout occurred as millions of Americans were searching for online information about Gabbard, who was the most searched candidate, but without any explanation, Google suspended her advertising account.
For hours, Gabbard’s campaign advertising remained offline while voters were seeking information about her and it looks like payback for the lawmaker’s advocacy on behalf of citizens and consumers.
“During her career in Congress, Gabbard has moved to limit the power of big tech companies like Google and has fought to keep the internet open and available to all,” said the complaint filed in federal court by Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP. “Gabbard has co-sponsored legislation that prohibits multi-tiered pricing agreements for the privileged few, and she has spoken in favor of reinstating and expanding net neutrality to apply to Internet firms like Google.”
Gabbard says Google obfuscated and dissembled with a series of inconsistent and incoherent reasons for its actions, but never explained to the campaign why her account was suspended.
Google controls 88 percent of all internet search in the United States – essentially giving it control over our access to information.
That’s one reason why Gabbard has been a vocal proponent of breaking up the tech monopolies.
No matter what the motivation was for doing so, Google’s arbitrary and capricious decision to suspend Gabbard’s Google Ads account during a critical moment in the campaign should be of concern to all political candidates and in fact all Americans.
“If Google can do this to Tulsi Gabbard, a combat veteran and four term Congresswoman who is running for the nation’s highest office, Google can do this to any candidate, from any party, running for any office in the United States,” said a statement from the campaign.
“Google’s discriminatory actions against my campaign are reflective of how dangerous their complete dominance over internet search is, and how the increasing dominance of big tech companies over our public discourse threatens our core American values,” said Gabbard. “This is a threat to free speech, fair elections and to our democracy, and I intend to fight back on behalf of all Americans.”
“Big Tech’s dominance represents a clear and present danger to our democracy,” said Gabbard.
Gabbard’s lawsuit points out: “Google could unilaterally and decisively end a presidential candidate’s bid for office if it chose to— by tweaking its search algorithm to disfavor the candidate; or blocking the candidate from its ad platforms; or keeping the candidate’s communications from getting to interested voters who use Gmail for email communications.”
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