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Google to Purge Ads for Bail Bond Services

Company throws weight behind reformers who want to end the practice of jailing people who cannot afford to pay.

Bail bondsmanLori Martin / Dreamstime.comThis post has been corrected to clarify between Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Institute.

Google has thrown its support behind the growing movement to eliminate cash bail by purging bail bond advertisements from its platform.

Beginning in July, Google will no longer accept advertisements from private bail bond services. David Graff, Google's director of global product policy, explained the decision Monday:

We made this decision based on our commitment to protect our users from deceptive or harmful products, but the issue of bail bond reform has drawn support from a wide range of groups and organizations who have shared their work and perspectives with us, including the Essie Justice Group, Koch Industries, Color of Change and many civil and human rights organizations who have worked on the reform of our criminal justice system for many years.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, put out a statement Monday afternoon supporting Google's decision:

No one should be incarcerated—before they've even been tried or convicted of a crime—simply because they can't afford not to be. With this ban, Google is doing its part to protect people from unscrupulous advertisers who are taking advantage of the fact that most people will do whatever they can to avoid having to spend time, or having their family member spend time, in jail.

This morning, Google hosted these organizations at a bail reform panel in D.C. to discuss the push for court systems across the country to move away from using cash bail systems. A representative from Koch Industries was on the panel, and separately the Charles Koch Institute provided a brief statement to Reason show support for bail reform:

The Charles Koch Institute (CKI) is interested in driving solutions to the many barriers to opportunity caused by monetary bail. We believe that decisions to detain an individual accused of a crime should be based on public safety and flight risk. These decisions should be consistent with the Bill of Rights and the Eight Amendment, and not be based solely on an individual's ability to pay. CKI is excited to lend our voice to this issue alongside leaders like the Pretrial Justice Institute.

New Jersey courts have largely eliminated cash bail. Alaska this year changed its system to rely less on cash bail and to use pretrial risk assessments and monitoring tools to try to keep more people out of jail if they have not been convicted. Other states, such as California, are considering changes—and if they don't, civil rights groups plan to force the matter with lawsuits.

But refusing to run ads for bail bond companies isn't changing the law. It limits publicity for a service that many people need to get out of jail right now. The American Bail Coalition, which represents the industry, is not happy with Google's decision and disagrees with the Koch Institute's interpretation of the Bill of Rights. In a prepared statement, American Bail Coalition President Jeff Clayton responded:

It is shameful that Google would deny people access to bail services, which are heavily regulated by state insurance commissioners around the country. For years, Google has taken money from bail companies, like all other legal businesses, to let the marketplace help consumers of services find and research the providers of such services that they need. However, it would appear that Google and Koch Industries have decided to pander to special interests in an attempt to re-engineer society according to their own dictates. Unfortunately, their alarming move to re-write state and federal statutes on their own is inconsistent with the rule of law and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

People who are actually in need of bail bondsmen are still going to be able to track down services. But it's not like Google is purging those companies from its search results. Well, at least not yet. It's worth considering that possibility given that the company says it believes these bail services are a "deceptive and harmful product."

Photo Credit: Lori Martin / Dreamstime.com

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    No one should be incarcerated—before they've even been tried or convicted of a crime—simply because they can't afford not to be. With this ban, Google is doing its part to protect people from unscrupulous advertisers who are taking advantage of the fact that most people will do whatever they can to avoid having to spend time, or having their family member spend time, in jail.

    What the fuck does that have to do with Bail Bonds companies?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Google execs can't possibly be this stupid, can they? So you're arrested, the court assigns bail, and then you can't find anyone to put up a bond... GREAT SUCCESS!

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I too and truly confused by this decision.

    "We believe that it is unfair that people are prosecuted without proper representation. And so until this problem is solved we will be banning advertisements from lawyers."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's like Silicon Valley is a kind of Bermuda Triangle for IQ points...

  • BYODB||

    It's worse than that.

    It's "We believe that it is unfair that people are jailed for inability to pay, so we're eliminating people's ability to get around that using bail bonds so instead they must to go jail for inability to pay."

    It's virtue signaling that punishes the people they ostensibly want to help. Yeah, real wise fucks all up in Google these days. I note these wise fucks didn't think to ask 'what about the requirement that a trial be speedy'?

  • See.More||

    So you're arrested, the court assigns bail, and then you can't find anyone to put up a bond

    Google is going to stop accepting/presenting ads for the services. That is not the same as blocking them from search results.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    That doesn't change a single thing about what I posted. It's like you're running the 100 yard dash to miss the point.

    So to help you out:

    Google stops taking ads from Bail Bonds companies because "No one should be incarcerated—before they've even been tried or convicted of a crime[...]"

    Google believes that this will send a message or help clip the wings of the industry that thrives on the bail system (which it does) which is a system conceived, executed and perpetrated by the legislative and judicial process.

    I'm assuming you can figure out the rest from here.

  • An Owl Named Dur||

    "No one should be incarcerated—before they've even been tried or convicted of a crime—simply because they can't afford not to be."

    But apparently Google thinks it's fine to remain incarcerated simply because one can't locate a bail bond service. Asinine virtue signaling that, to the extent it has any impact at all, will actually harm the people it professes to help.

  • See.More||

    But apparently Google thinks it's fine to remain incarcerated simply because one can't locate a bail bond service.

    Google is going to stop accepting/presenting ads for the services. That is not the same as blocking them from search results.

  • JWatts||

    True, but besides the point. It makes them less visible. Sure, the change may be marginal. But it's marginally in the wrong direction

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Sneaky Pete's "family" hardest hit.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I tried to watch that but couldn't get into it.

  • Ron||

    So google is telling me what services i can choose or not. Not good

  • damikesc||

    Yup, keeping Google really, really large is, apparently, super-important for all kinds of Libertarian reasons.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    Bake. That. Gay. Bail bond. Cake.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You're onto something. Some sort of legislative solution to FORCE google to take bail bonds advertisers. It's definitely what I was thinking.

  • Illocust||

    So now instead of being able to choose between multiple bail bonds companies. The defendants will just have to rely on the company closest and easiest to find from the court house. Brilliant! No way this could go wrong.

    Also, that's the final line. No more Google searches for me. I never thought it'd happen, but I'm heading back to Internet Explorer and bing. Microsoft may be greedy bastards, but their motivations will at least always be openly self serving as opposed to for my own "good".

  • See.More||

    So now instead of being able to choose between multiple bail bonds companies. The defendants will just have to rely on the company closest and easiest to find from the court house.

    Google is going to stop accepting/presenting ads for the services. That is not the same as blocking them from search results.

  • Ron||

    not accepting means there will be no adds hence they are blocked you block head

  • Bubba Jones||

    The websites will still be indexed.

  • Robert||

    Isn't this like trying to cut taxes by rejecting ads for tax prepar'n service?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Almost exactly that.

  • esteve7||

    See it's okay for big corporations to get involved as long as it is lefty politics involved.

    What if goggle decided to stop showing planned parenthood in their searched or promoted pro-life sites above that. I assume all hell would break loose on the left. But removing those icky guns from the store or those icky bail bond companies, thats A-OK.

  • Jerryskids||

    2bs, Google is a private company and can do as it likes but if the little hairs on the back of your neck don't stand up when a company starts picking and choosing who's virtuous enough to be offered a chance to speak you ain't been paying attention.

  • mamabug||

    Knee-jerk reaction - that's idiotic and will make things worse for those who need the service.

    Slightly less knee-jerk reaction - It seems that they are only refusing to accept ad revenue, not eliminating returns from searches. Effectively, it means a web or google map search would still return links and contact info, but they wouldn't be ranked based on the amount of money they've paid to be featured. So, at best, it will reduce a few cold leads to the companies with the biggest online marketing budgets. I.E. Doesn't do any good but doesn't do any harm.

  • John||

    So, Google doesn't like cash bail because it keeps too many innocent people in jail. Okay. As a result of this, it is now going to make it even harder for people to get cash bail and get out of jail.

    Yeah, that makes sense. But hey, it allows the moral twits who run Google to feel good about themselves and I guess that is all that matters.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I discussed this in the morning links thread.

    We've also seen Google collude with Twitter, Facebook, PayPal, Instagram, and others to shut down gun sales--in what looks to me like blatant anti-competitive behavior.

    Suffice it to say that as Google's services become increasingly difficult to avoid, their monopoly power increasingly becomes a legitimate libertarian concern.

    We may all live to see a future where neither transportation (via Waymo) nor communication is possible without Google, and their behavior in shutting down market access to unfavored industries should be alarming. I'm not saying govenrment intervention is necessary or warranted at this time, but it's a serious concern.

    . . . and those of you who say that the simple solution is to stop using Google's products, go ahead and do that to whatever extent you can. That's what I'm doing.

    Learn to use DuckDuck Go. Eelo is coming out with a un-Googled version of Android later this year. Stop using gmail and find a better service. I encourage people I email with a gmail address to switch to a service that doesn't wipe their asses with our privacy. Wish I could do the same with people I call on an Android phone. Yeah, go ahead and stop using Google's products, but it won't be easy. It'll be a process.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Suffice it to say that as Google's services become increasingly difficult to avoid, their monopoly power increasingly becomes a legitimate libertarian concern.

    Gonna disagree with you here. Just wait. It'll work itself out absent any regulation. We saw this from Microsoft in the 90s, it'll happen to Google. And I suspect it already is, it's just too early to see.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Microsoft's position was eroding at the time they were facing antitrust--and they didn't even realize it. At one point, Gates dumped big money into Apple for fear that they would disappear without his help--and he needed to keep them around to help him argue that Microsoft wasn't an monopoly, especially to European regulators. In the meantime, we invented the web browser via Netscape going public. Circa Windows 95, most people still thought that AOL's website constituted the sum total of the internet. We had to invent the retail internet and the smart phone to kick Microsoft off its lofty perch.

    I'm not sure we're likely to see those kinds of revolutionary changes again in the internet space. Lately, I've been wrestling with this piece:

    "Genetic drift scales with the inverse square root of population. This means that genetic drift is ten times faster for a population of ten thousand than for a population of a million. The scaling is the same for any kind of random mutations. If we observe any measurable quantity such as height, running speed, age at puberty, or intelligence test score, the average drift will vary with the inverse square root of population. The square root results from the statistical averaging of random events."

    ----Freeman Dyson

    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....verything/

  • Ken Shultz||

    The basic structure of that scaling law seem to work on much more than genetic mutation. Dyson goes on to show that innovation and spontaneous order work according to the same kind of scaling rule.

    Meanwhile,the internet is all pervasive and so is Google's presence. Given that scale, we might expect that scaling law to stifle the possibility of innovation like we haven't seen in modern times. And it isn't just that an all powerful network seeks to fight creative destruction. It's also that the change needs to be so profound to have an impact on such a large network that it becomes increasingly difficult for any changes to really make a difference and increasingly unprofitable for people to waste resources looking for those changes.

    It's like an investment fund with hundreds of billions under management. If any small cap stock triples in size, that doesn't really matter to them. A company tripling from $30 million to $90 million doesn't matter to them. $60 million divided by $100 billion is . . . six thousandths of one percent--not even a rounding error.

    How big does a change have to be in order to make a difference on a system as big as Google's? . . . not to mention that the likelihood of finding such change drops dramatically according to Dyson's scaling rule.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'm not sure we're likely to see those kinds of revolutionary changes again in the internet space. Lately, I've been wrestling with this piece:

    Careful, these were the exact arguments I was getting from my cohorts in the tech sector when they told me that the operating system market wasn't like a regular market, and Microsoft couldn't ever be supplanted.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Get your head around that Freeman Dyson piece. Take out the stuff about genetics. It's the same for any random event.

    . . . scales with the inverse square root of population. This means that . . . is ten times faster for a population of ten thousand than for a population of a million. The scaling is the same for any kind of random mutations . . . the average . . . will vary with the inverse square root of population. The square root results from the statistical averaging of random events."

    The number of innovations we're likely to see is inversely related to the square root of the size of the sample. I can think of dozens of examples of this, but we rarely apply this observation to innovation--like we should. For instance, when you're in a small company, the quality of the few employees you have makes a big difference. The bigger the company gets, the less variation you're going to see in the talent as the sample size increases.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Innovation works like that, too. When the entire world of desktop operating systems was a few hundred or a few thousand people at Microsoft, there was a much wider spectrum of innovation that was still possible. Operating systems and word processing Office suites are so ubiquitous now (the sample size is so large), there may be precious few innovations still possible. What revolutionary innovation can come to the world of word processing?

    I think we may be there with a lot of Google's core business. Are search, smart phones, maps, email, etc. about to get revolutionarily better because of some big innovation? Waymo may come out with self-driving cars--but it's a less mature technology with a smaller sample size, so wider variations in such innovation are still possible.

    If genetically engineered children are born tomorrow with amazing intelligence, they will still be subject to the same scaling laws that Dyson is writing about. They can't make revolutionary changes to word processing software or Gmail if there are simply few or no revolutionary changes left to make.

  • BYODB||

    I think it's actually a bit of a fallacy here, considering that you're lumping a lot of things into the rubric of 'the internet' to achieve the largest and most panic inducing sample size while ignoring that the internet is the underbrush in the Amazon rain forest in terms of individual markets within it.

    There are elephants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. but they are not the sum total of 'the internet' and the development tools needed to make something, or anything, on the internet are widely available.

    The pornography industry makes Google, Amazon, and Facebook look like chumps yet a new porn website pops up every day, man.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "There are elephants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. but they are not the sum total of 'the internet'"

    The point of this conversation was whether we might expect someone to arise out of nowhere to dislodge Google from their core business.

    If someone were to do that, it probably won't be in a mature field that Google is already dominating--like search or communication. That boat has sailed.

    We're talking about the likelihood that someone will innovate some new email or search that is so fundamentally superior to Google's model, that the newcomers will eat Google's lunch.

    I'm merely pointing out that in the world of innovation (look at random variation), the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish as more and more people embrace Google's model and the size of that model increases.

    That is the long term model we're looking at. I wouldn't pound the table on policy expecting someone to supplant Google in search or communication because of innovation. The pace of revolutionary change has slowed considerably--especially as technologies broaden and are adopted.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I was telling somebody the other day: My grandfather was born in the days of horse and buggy. His father was a missionary to China. It took them more than a year to get from Boston to Shanghai. He lived to take a commercial flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. That's revolutionary change.

    We shouldn't expect that kind of change from Google's competitors with search and email.
    What's happened with email between 1998 and 2018 isn't revolutionary at all. It works that way with all kinds of things. Have commercial jets changed that much since my grandfather flew across the ocean on a 747 back in the 1970s?

  • Cyto||

    One thing you are missing is that it isn't about revolutionizing email. Or Search.

    Email has already experienced a revolution - because it isn't about email... it is communication. Email was revolutionary because it was fast, global, nearly instantaneous and cheap asynchronous communication with no incremental costs for each message.

    Since email we've seen texting and social media revolutionize those sorts of communications. Ever hear about people joining a new listserve these days? It just doesn't come up, because we have facebook and twitter.

    Search is "how do I find what I'm looking for". Facebook is trying to supplant a lot of that with shoving it in your feed. They know what you are looking for before you search and give it to you. (obviously doesn't supplant search, but it certainly has already displaced a good deal of it)

    Who knows what else is possible? Google has built quite a powerful position in the market with their diverse products. But someone can always invent a better mousetrap. And then Google, Apple and Facebook can bid to see who buys it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What's next? Eliminating the extraordinary powers of the bounty hunter?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Dog hardest hit.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Fist, I told you that you can't hire a bounty hunter to go after the Capitals hockey team. That's not how it works.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The Lightning will likely take care of that for free.

  • creech||

    Best way to fight this would be for alt-right to praise Google for making it easier to keep perps (sound the dog-whistle) locked up where they belong.

  • Sigivald||

    That last bit from Big Bail was ... weird, even by advocacy-group press release posturing standards.

    "Arguing that bail should be based on flight risk and public safety" is not an "attempt to rewrite statutes" or in any way an attack on the Bill of Rights.

    It's suggesting that the Legislative Branch should ... make new laws regarding bails, and that Judges should look at the proposed factors when making bail decisions within existing legal requirements.

    The Bill of Rights does not say anything about bail other than "excessive bail shall not be required"; given that the Koches are asking for less bail, less often, the idea that they're opposed to the Bill of Rights is ... it's so far off it's nearly in Pauli's "not even wrong" category.

    Except it is, of course, simply and plainly wrong.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Yay! The accused get to stay in jail longer before they get their "speedy trial".

  • JeremyR||

    And yet Reason magazine wants Google to control where people can and cannot go via self-driving cars

  • Tony||

    Who gets thrown in jail and then gets to use the internet?

    Is the point to settle on a bondsman in the event you get arrested, and make sure you memorize their phone number?

  • Ron||

    cops actually allow people to use their cell phones to contact needed parties before jailing. sometimes

  • Tony||

    A friend tells me this is what they do where I'm from: take all your stuff including phone and make you sit in a holding room with the world's most confusing public phones (clearly just a dick move). They are kind enough to provide a list of bailbondsmen, and if you can ever figure out how to use the phone you pick one at random. Because nobody knows anybody's phone numbers anymore.

  • Whorton||

    Who cares about that pesky First Amendment?

    People are fools and don't need the right to express their opinions, right? By the way, what prepares those from Google or any other service to decide what points of view should and should not be expressed?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Isn't the whole point of bail to prevent people from having to sit in jail until their trial? Isn't that a good thing?

    Aren't most of them a flight risk?

  • Rossami||

    So because the Courts have a broken process (imposition of excessive bail), Google is going to make it harder for people to find any help getting out of jail. Yeah, that makes sense.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Having been in the criminal law system I don't think there is much by way of imposition of excessive bail at the street level. The so-called "reformers" are not asking for lower bail, but for no bail at all. Of course bail is a strain on the offender's pocketbook: it is supposed to be difficult to commit a crime and then get out of jail in a blink, ready to go and commit another crime.

    To be clear, bail is imposed not to be punitive to the individual (in most cases) but to be protective of society. I would guess that is what has the "reformers" most upset inasmuch as they generally do not want to protect this society.

    Personally the thing that upsets me most is the large computer-related companies making it their business to jump on political bandwagons, necessarily promoting one point of view and stifling others. Facebook now has a "social good" platform to enable users to get matching donations for this or that good cause of choice. I doubt that someone seeking donations to the NRA would be welcome there.

  • Jess112||

    So let me understand, do the crime, without any repercussion to the person committing the crime? Pre-trial services will cost the tax payers millions when the defendant can not afford to pay for the electronic monitoring alternative. A tether has a daily fee with the average of $500 a month, usually a case will last 4-6 months with the more serious cases lasting a year or longer. A $5.000 cash or surety bond is a total of $500 to a Bail company. So is pre trial services now praying on the minorities, less fortunate and poor communities? They will continue to be paid for their services, it will just be the tax payers paying them. The bail system actually works in favor of the court system for many reasons; For instance, Bail is regulated by the board of education in North Carolina which in turn has some of the best school systems with the help of that funding. When a person fails to appear in court, the bail company is responsible. When they pay for a bond, that money goes directly to the court. It shouldn't matter what someone's financial situation is, don't commit the crime and you won't need to worry about it. The bail companies do not set the bail amounts, you have the choice of using the cash amount and pay directly to the court or the surety, which is the bail company and not only allows a less amount but most likely will have payment options available. Obviously, I could go on and on as this entire situation is laughable.

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