Christine Varney....a partner at Hogan & Hartson and one of the country's foremost experts in online law, was speaking at the ninth annual conference of the American Antitrust Institute, a gathering of top monopoly attorneys and economists... Varney....did not hide her message behind legalese or euphemism. The technology industry, she said, was coming under the sway of a dominant behemoth, one that had the potential to stifle innovation and squash its competitors. The last time the government saw a threat like this—Microsoft in the 1990s—it launched an aggressive antitrust case. But by the time of this conference, mid-June 2008, a new offender had emerged. "For me, Microsoft is so last century," Varney said. "They are not the problem. I think we are going to continually see a problem, potentially, with Google."
....Varney was suggesting that Google was repeating Microsoft's expansionist behavior. Instead of dominating the desktop, Varney said, Google was starting to colonize the emerging cloud-computing industry, amassing "enormous market power" and potentially creating an ecosystem that customers would be powerless to escape. She acknowledged that her remarks might ruffle some feathers at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. "If any of my colleagues or friends from Google are here," she said, "I invite you to jump up and scream and yell at me."
Nobody took her up on that offer. But it is safe to assume that plenty of Googlers were jumping and screaming six months later when President Obama appointed Varney head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, making her the government's most powerful antimonopoly prosecutor. On May 11, during her first public speech on the job, Varney made it clear that her stance had not changed much since her presentation at the conference: She planned to take a forceful approach to applying the nation's antitrust laws. "In the past, the antitrust division was a leader in its enforcement efforts in technology industries, and I believe we will take this mantle again," she said. She did not mention Google by name, but there was little doubt to whom she was referring.
I first raised the alarm about Varney in my April American Conservative cover story on Obama as the mighty Octopotus.