Google Bans Bail Bond Ads, Invites Regulation

Google: Today, we’re announcing a new policy to prohibit ads that promote bail bond services from our platforms. Studies show that for-profit bail bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years.

Google’s decision to ban ads from bail bond providers is deeply disturbing and wrongheaded. Bail bonds are a legal service. Indeed, they are a necessary service for the legal system to function. It’s not surprising that bail bonds are used in communities of color and low income neighborhoods because it is in those neighborhoods that people most need to raise bail. We need not debate whether that is due to greater rates of crime or greater discrimination or both. Whatever the cause, preventing advertising doesn’t reduce the need to pay bail it simply makes it harder to find a lender. Restrictions on advertising in the bail industry, as elsewhere, are also likely to reduce competition and raise prices. Both of these effects mean that more people will find themselves in jail for longer.

As with any industry, there are bad players in the bail bond industry but in my experience the large majority of providers go well beyond lending money to providing much needed services to help people navigate the complex, confusing and intimidating legal system. Sociologist Joshua Page worked as a bail agent:

In the course of my research, I learned that agents routinely offer various forms of assistance for low-income customers, primarily poor people of color. It’s very difficult for those with limited resources to get information, much less support, from overburdened jails, courts, or related institutions. Lacking attentive private attorneys, therefore, desperate defendants and their friends and families turn to bail companies to help them understand and navigate the opaque, confusing legal processes.

…In fact, even when people have gone through it before, the pretrial process can be murky and intimidating….[A]long with walking clients through the legal process, agents explain the differences between public and private attorneys and the relative merits of each. Discussions regularly turn to the defendant’s case: Is the alleged victim pressing charges? Will the case move forward if he or she does not? When is the next court date? If convicted, what’s the likely punishment? Any chance the charges will get dropped?

…In a classic 1975 study, sociologist Forrest Dill argued:

One of the key functions performed by attorneys in the criminal process is to direct the passage of cases through the procedural and bureaucratic mazes of the court system. For unrepresented defendants, however, the bondsman may perform the crucial institutional task of helping to negotiate court routines.

Dill’s observation still rings true: bail agents and administrative staff (at least in Rocksville) act as legal guides for defendants who do not have private attorneys—and at times they provide this help to defendants with inattentive hired counsel. They provide information about court dates and locations, check the status of warrants, contact court staff on defendants’ behalf (especially when the accused have missed court or are at risk of doing so), and, at times, drive defendants to their court dates. These activities help clients show up for court, thereby protecting the company’s investments.

The bail agents are not purely altruistic, they are in a competitive, service business and it pays to help their clients with kindness and care. When I asked one bail agent why he was so polite to his clients and their relations–even when they had jumped bail–he told me, “we rely a lot on repeat business.”

Ian Ayres and Joel Waldfogel also found that the bail bond system can (modestly) ameliorate judicial racial bias. Ayres and Waldfogel found that in New Haven in the 1990s black and Hispanic males were assigned bail amounts that were systematically higher than equally-risky whites. The bail bondpersons, however, offered lower prices to minorities–meaning equal net prices for people of equal risk–exactly what one would expect from a competitive industry.

My own research found that defendants released on commercial bail were much more likely to show up for trial than statistical doppelgangers released by other methods. Bounty hunters were also much more likely than the police to capture and bring to justice people who did jump bail. The bail bond system thus provides an important public service at no cost to the public.

In addition to being wrongheaded, Google’s decision is disturbing because it is so obviously a political decision. Google has banned legal services like bail bonding and payday lending from advertising on Google in order to curry favor with groups who have an ideological aversion to payday lending and the bail system. Google is a private company so this is their right. But every time Google acts as a lawgiver instead of an open platform it invites regulation and political control. Politicians on both sides will see that Google’s code is either a quick-step to political power without the necessity of a vote or a threat to such power. Personally, I don’t want to see greater regulation but if, for example, conservatives decide that Google doesn’t represent their values and threatens their interests, they will regulate.

Google’s decision to use its code as law is an invitation to politicization. Moreover, Google is throwing away its best defense against politicization–the promise of neutrality and openness.

Comments

This should be used in economics 101 across the country. Great post Alex.

But this is odd.

"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."

Why does Koch not support bail bonds? That is from the link provided by google.

Are you possibly confusing bail with an industry that profits from providing bail bonds?

As can be seen from this - 'Technology behemoth Google is revving up its support for bail reform and it's getting help from one of the most influential groups in Washington — the Koch political network.

Google is partnering with Koch Industries, the multibillion-dollar conglomerate owned by political financiers Charles and David Koch, in an event Tuesday to push for changes to the bail code within the United States, according to an invitation obtained by CNBC.

The event is expected to take place in Washington and, among others, leaders of the Koch network are expected to attend. Several will be making comments at the event.

Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice president of Koch Industries and chairman of the board of directors for Freedom Partners, one of the network's nonprofit political advocacy groups, confirmed the event. He explained that he's hoping to see more due process before someone has to pay a bail fee that at times can exceed $20,000.

"Our desired state is that after people are arrested, there should be a risk assessment done, a determination if they are a risk to public safety" and then a decision should be made on whether they should be detained and pay bail, Holden said. He noted this was not the first time Google and the Kochs had teamed up to push for criminal justice reform.' https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/07/google-and-koch-brothers-team-up-for-bail-reform.html

I'm guessing that Prof. Tabarrok was not invited to attend.

I noticed about a couple of years ago Koch broke ties with their traditional (white) libertarian base and started partnering with more American liberal groups like ones that cater to African-Americans. This might be part of that trend.

So this is Google acknowledging that people of color and people in low income neighborhoods commit most of the crimes. But in the process finding a way to disparage the service that allows these criminals to get out of jail until their case comes to trial. Considering this, I'm not sure the people at Google have a clue. What is their goal? To deny bail to people of color and those who live in low income neighborhoods? Perhaps with an underlying anti-capitalist agenda too? Where would Google be without capitalism?

A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. A liberal is a conservative who has been denied bail?

I can't believe I'm about to agree with prior, but setting that aside, it is indeed obvious that Koch hasn't endorsed Google's actions in terms of restrictions, but rather that Google is (in addition to their restrictions) endorsing Koch's (and others) actions towards reforming the bail system to become more fair.

One problem is that with bonds available bail must be higher. The system comes to use the ability to bond as ability to pay. It is the free market outcome. Including therefore a steady income for bondsmen even as everyone shows up for court. A rent.

Personally I think the answer would be less bail and more voluntary tracking. But that would cost cities money up front. New systems. And for which constituencies?

+1

What is this “voluntary tracking”?

Is it: “check in when it suits you?” Is it: “this community volunteer will track you”? Or, is it a parole officer thing?

It's a device they put on your ankle that tracks your whereabouts.

Who is going to pay the cost of the monitor and fees for monitoring? Bail is usually cheaper.Follow the money trail. Also who would reap the income from the monitor cost?

Bail bondsmen do more than just collect a check. They will make sure the defendant shows up for court. They might even have someone show up to make sure you are awake and showered and escort you there.

I don't know if bondsmen are a net positive or a net negative. I do know that they appear bad at first glance to people who believe in the Copenhagen theory of ethics -- that anyone nearby a problem is responsible for the problem -- and that their badness is overstated, and there is a need to correct for that. Again, I don't know whether they are a net positive or net negative.

It's a petty and foolish thought process to think that anyone who "makes money off the poor" is exploiting the poor. If you want the poor to live better lives, you want to encourage more people to employ them and to sell them goods and services, not to provide extra scrutiny to them.

A lot of the bail system itself is horrible and particularly puts the screws to the lower-class. But you fix that by fixing the bail system.

See below, on Wisconsin.

The bondsmen might be partially responsible for the problems with the bail system though. I am sure the people behind this decision believe this at least. The question is, how is cutting advertising opportunities going to help this? The bondsmen are still going to be making money and influencing the system and creating a need for their product. It's not like cigarettes where the advertising is the main mechanism by which the vendors cause public health problems. Never-the-less, I am not surprised by this decision.

Evokes concerns around online locksmith businesses.

I strongly suspect that when you did down deep into the "intellectual" support for the Google decision you will eventually find people who are hoping to become the new bail-bonds providers, and they won't be doing out of a charitable heart either.

'deep into the "intellectual" support for the Google decision you will eventually find people who are hoping to become the new bail-bonds providers'

Koch Industries is planning on branching out? Please, do tell.

Good observation. The block behind the criminal courthouse here in NYC are several bail bondsmen while inside the criminal courthouse are defendants primarily "people of color." So the upshot of Google's decision is that defendants will be less able to shop around -- not that there will be fewer people of color as defendants or that the several bail bondsmen around the corner will price their products more competitively.

Sure, Google is taking action "in order to curry favor" .... just as you are with this post.

Funny thing is, you're both sucking up to the left -- by proposing completely opposite things. Sane people find this hilarious.

It's so challenging to claim the moral high ground these days, isn't it? If a business serves primarily people of color, is it racist for making a profit off of them? Or is it racist to decry the business, because it is providing a service to them?

At least we can all agree that the reason the business exists is of course -- wait for it -- racism! But does that mean the business should be celebrated, or destroyed? Only economists can tell us!

Please keep this up. The best part is that it has gotten you so wound up that you think your "repeat business" anecdote helps your cause, when it does the opposite.

I honestly have no idea what any of the above means. Can someone please translate?

Hm I thought it was very clear. Are you being obtuse or are you just dense? I favor the former but either way, I am not going to oblige your trollish request.

This is so annoying. I disagree with everything that guy wrote, but you’re making me want to defend him by pulling this shit.

You understand that banning ads is not banning look-up, right?

Interesting choice, to allow search (as does Yelp, BTW), but not ads.

the point of ads is that they show up first when you search so this policy is just harassing people who are searching for bail bonds

The natural results for "bail bonds my town" would be bondsmen as well. They might be more established firms though, and this might restrict entry to the business.

Just like it would restrict entry of charlatans and snake oil salesman. I don't necessarily agree with it, but its googles company. If google wants to restrict the bales bondsmen market I'm fine with that

This: Whatever the cause, preventing advertising doesn’t reduce the need to pay bail it simply makes it harder to find a lender.

As someone that has been on the wrong side of the bail desk (a long time ago), you can *literally* be reduced to using a bondsman whose number you can see outside of the Sheriff's office or the equivalent of an index card with five variations of AAAAAAA1! Bonds taped to a wall in a rural Louisiana county.

It may not make it harder to find a good one.

Without ads the top result is the natural one, the company with the highest page rank.

And as I say, Yelp ranks them by user experience.

I beg to differ. How many Yelp reviews are you going to find for bondsmen in Opelousas, Louisiana, that are under six months old?

Pull your head out of your metro area bias and understand you can't find a Yelp review less than a year old for the most popular Mexican restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi (as was the case the last time I visited there; a large town by Mississippi standards, btw).

I'm not a person that ever clicks on ad links for anything, but I also didn't have this resource at 3AM in the middle of nowhere when someone was in jail. The ad "resource" is the Google magic of knowing what businesses are open when, which ones serve your particular area of the county or parish (it's not as simple as matching zip codes, and often times the arrestees don't know *exactly* where they're at, especially when arrested on the interstate. This also becomes a problem as different arresting agencies can take you to different facilities even if you're arrested in the exact same place.)

So, no, it *does* make it harder for the low income, low information user to have more choices made available. You're talking about people (I'm talking about poor trash, not any particular race of trash) that show up late to court, and can't understand how to get their electric bills paid on time at the local grocery store, etc.

It's not supposed to be the job of the elites to decide what books (i.e. resources) are in the available information library of the poor. And let's not kid ourselves, the poor of *any* color are most likely to be impacted by this restriction of information dissemination. Yet another sign of the continued infantilization of the lower class folks by Techno Social Justice Warriors.

More information is better only when it suits your agenda. Be intellectually consistent.

I am not really coming from that direction. I am more inclined to think "kids today" can navigate the web just fine, and "missing ads" won't slow them down much.

Heck, ask your phone "bail bonds" and default search will be location based.

Maybe the follow-on question for Alex should be:

If we all did that test, should the fact that we searched "bail bonds" be in our permanent record? Or for sale?

"Kids these days" don't form the bulk of who ends up in jail in rural areas.

You don't have your phone in your possession when you get booked. You're relying on someone else to figure this stuff out, someone that is not at your location.

Google shows ads for abortion services in Jackson, MS. Abortion is disproportionately used by people of color in the area. Meh? It also shows ads for casinos and gambling, which all of us math smarties know is just a tax predominately on the poor. Meh Meh?

a lot of virtue signaling is about showing that you are not poor by supporting policies the hurt poor people

Just seems so weird. Bail bonds help people get out of jail.

So Google is in fact racist.

Who but a bunch of pasty faced oddballs would prefer to keep vigorous young men off the streets?

Google is so wrong.

Google continues to go off the deep end with its politics. Every day I get closer to de-googling myself.

+1

How do you do to de-googling yourself ? (serious question : want to do it).

I'd have to google to get the answer, alas.

Step 1: set up Bing as your default search engine.

Its not that bad.

Step 1: Set up DuckDuckGo (or even something else, like Bing) as your default search engine.

Step 2: Set up Hotmail/Outlook, Yahoo! or something else as your free email. (Of course, junking Gmail also means more ads and no more secure email [without, say, PGP or another program, or unless you're emailing a Gmail user *and* your domain is one of those Gmail has a secure email arrangement with]).

Step 3: Junk Chrome in favor of, say, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Opera or Safari (other options, such as Dolphin, available on smartphones).

Step 4: Speaking of smartphones, go iPhone. Or Windows Phone, Blackberry or one of those pay-as-you-go plan phones with non-Android based operating systems.

Step 5: To get around, try MapQuest or Waze (both of which I vouch for, by the way).

Step 6: Say goodbye to your Google Play library of apps, books, games, movies, etc.

Not impossible, but harder than some might think.

Wait, Google does not want to take an advertiser's money, but does nothing to change search results?

And this is a problem for a libertarian why?

'In addition to being wrong-headed, Google’s decision is disturbing because it is so obviously a political decision.'

And this is a problem for a libertarian why?

'But every time Google acts as a lawgiver instead of an open platform it invites regulation and political control.'

No company is required to accept any and all advertisers - and using the term 'open platform' is another one of those fascinating examples of having absolutely no understanding of what a term means.

A lack of understanding underlined by this - 'Politicians on both sides will see that Google’s code ....' Google's code has nothing to do with what advertising business it accepts or rejects, as clearly 'code of conduct' is not what you mean when misapplying Lessig's several decades old thinking - 'This regulator is code--the software and hardware that make cyberspace as it is. This code, or architecture, sets the terms on which life in cyberspace is experienced. It determines how easy it is to protect privacy, or how easy it is to censor speech. It determines whether access to information is general or whether information is zoned. It affects who sees what, or what is monitored. In a host of ways that one cannot begin to see unless one begins to understand the nature of this code, the code of cyberspace regulates.' https://harvardmagazine.com/2000/01/code-is-law-html

What business an advertiser decides to reject has basically nothing to do with Lessig's writing - which is from 2000, by the way.

It's a problem because, I think, and a lot of other people think, the fascist monopoly Google should be forced to treat all advertisers equally under the law. It would seem that what they're doing is already illegal because they are discriminating against businesses based on the color of their clients skin.

How is Google a monopolist?

According to Netmarketshare, for searches on mobile phones, hand-held devices and tablets Google has about 10 times as much market share as its nearest competitor. Does that qualify as a monopoly?

'the fascist monopoly Google should be forced to treat all advertisers equally under the law'

You are joking, right? Because treating all advertisers equally under the law means allowing Google to choose what advertising it accepts and does not accept. Google is a private company, after all.

Now, as noted below, it is true that government regulation continues to creep into the marketplace, and there are some types of advertising that now carry considerable legal risk. Oddly, this web site did not mention that, though when the Kochs got involved, suddenly it was time to be concerned about government overreach.

"But every time Google acts as a lawgiver instead of an open platform it invites regulation and political control."

This isn't intuitive to me. By regulating its own platform, isn't Google demonstrating that it doesn't need external regulation? Conversely, if Google didn't moderate its ad platforms, they would be full of harmful content and certainly invite regulation.

It is fair to say that determining bail bond ads to be harmful to the public isn't something that people of all political stripes would agree to. But Google is presumably claiming to do so in order to reduce harm.

Well, why talk about an advertiser when we can see the real effect of a real law on a real web site - 'You can still find furniture or a roommate on Craigslist. But ads seeking romance or sexual connections are no longer going to be available, after Craigslist took down the "personals" section Friday for its U.S. site.

The company says it made the change because Congress has passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, meant to crack down on sex trafficking of children. It was approved by a landslide in the Senate earlier this week, as NPR's Alina Selyukh has reported, but has been met with criticism by free speech advocates and sex workers.

As Craigslist wrote, the law seeks "to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully."

"Any tool or service can be misused," Craigslist said. "We can't take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day."

The site added: "To the millions of spouses, partners and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!"' https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/23/596460672/craigslist-shuts-down-personals-section-after-congress-passes-bill-on-traffickin

Strange how that seemed to slip under the radar of this web site.

Perhaps Alex will read your post and address this decision by Craigslist, which he probably hasn’t heard anything about.

Is it customary for you to end every post with a snarky sentence, as you have done today?

I'm a disloyal reader.

As for Prof. Tabarrok's ignorance when it comes to this broad subject area, I am sure we could agree that he certainly demonstrates a lot of ignorance.

The objection to the bail bond system is that it encourages courts to require bail (i.e., the courts and the bail bondsmen are co-dependent): absent the bail bondsmen, courts are more likely to choose alternatives. As an economist, Tabarrok usually sees through the lens of incentives. This is one instance in which his preference for freedom of choice (i.e., letting bail bondsmen advertise on Google) outweighs his training as an economist. I can't say he is wrong, just a bit myopic. To be clear, bail does provide an incentive for the accused to appear in court, but the point of those who object to the bail bond system is that alternatives aren't tried.

But in its own way, it kinda privatizes the process of pretrial accountability. I’m sure bondsmen are far better and more cost effective at preventing their clients from jumping than anything the government could do.

Better than ankle bracelet?

I think Google just went for the "less bad" path, because very few people want to see these ads: https://youtu.be/bdfoojXzuWI

So, put on Google's shoes for a min, they got 3 alternatives:

Alternative A is that Google let everyone see these ads. Eventually, people stops laughing and complain to Google for getting ads aimed at "criminals". Also, quite probably bail agents can't fund an ad campaign that reach people nationwide.

Alternative B is that Google target ads to the intended audience: poor people of color. The implementation of alternative B takes 1e-9 seconds to be leaked to the press and Google is blamed for racism, collaborating with low status bail agents, etc, etc......

Alternative C: ban these ads, get applause from some group, derision from Mr. Tabarrok while safely navigating the treacherous waters of public opinion. Alternative C allows Google to run their business with minimal controversy.

Busted Bunny was good. But yes, I agree.

Isn't the argument with payday lenders that the people consuming their service aren't equipped to properly understand the agreement they are making. As such they end up in a worse situation then if the option weren't allowed.

We don't let children make certain decisions because we don't think they have the mental capacity to do so responsibly. With the poor (who are generally impulsive, low IQ, and easily manipulated) we often try to prevent them from being taken advantage of by high IQ manipulative people. Debt with high rates of interest is a classic case of where the poor often don't grasp the long term consequence of their agreements, and the businesses lending to them usually do their best of make it as confusing and non-transparent as possible (lots of fine print).

Without payday lending people might just borrow and spend less money, which might be good for them and the rest of us (prices would come down).

P.S. We can believe that the poor can understand the choices they make in the grocery store or other market context, and still believe that people who can't do algebra might not understand complex lending agreements.

I'm pretty confident that the low-income people who use payday lenders understand the ins and outs of the process much better than you or I do (people who've never set foot in a payday lender). The same goes for 'buy here, pay here' used car lots and pawn shops and rent-to-own furniture and appliance stores. Do they get worse deals than we do for loans and cars and appliances? Yes, they do. But it's hard to shop for good deals when you have terrible credit and no savings--a lot of the normal sources are closed off.

No doubt the understand the process/navigation better, but any financial contract like this contains lots of moving parts. I'm quite financially sophisticated myself, but thank God for the "truth in lending" statements required for mortgages, among 100 pages of mumbo jumbo.

Is there something similar for payday loans?

"Is there something similar for payday loans?"

I think it varies from place to place, but I also don't think it really matters because these transactions aren't like mortgages -- they're relatively small, short-term loans, customers tend to be repeat customers, and the business is competitive (so the lenders have an incentive to keep customers happy or they'll jump to a rival). Customers gain understanding from experience -- both their own and that of friends and relatives.

Good thing we have research on that issue and it seems access to Payday loans improve welfare. The interest may seem very high as a % but it's a very short term loan and there are fixed administrative costs to cover associated with processing the loan. It's not like these guys are massively profitable.

So basically Google collapsed in the face of some pressure from a few Hard Left political groups - and the Koch Brothers. It is inevitable that they will push for regulation soon. It is the only way they can grow a spine. They will be shaken down by everyone now. Now that people know they can be.

The only solution is to push the Feds to regulate them so that they can say "we would love to but we are not sure how that would affect our legal position. We are already fully complying with whatever toothless regulation we lobbied for".

Better yet they can push for a binding code of conduct that not only allows them to do pretty much what they want to - and ban pretty much anyone they like - but they can try to hobble their competition by getting them included too. Best of all if the process is expensive and time consuming. That will cripple upstarts like Duck Duck Go.

I would be sympathetic but given Google is happily banning all the voices on the Right they can, they have regulation and everything else coming to them.

+1

"So basically Google collapsed in the face of some pressure from a few Hard Left political groups - and the Koch Brothers."
It is almost as if allowing malefactors of great wealth, economic royalists and money interests control your political process could have been some kind of mistake.

Google is already politicized. Conservatives have already decided that Google doesn’t represent their values and threatens their interests. Also Facebook and Twitter.

Google is probably at the point: In for a penny, in for a pound. They are pretty much daring congress to regulate them.

Regulation is not necessarily a bad thing at their stage of growth, it may reduce competition and lock them in as the leader. It will depend how Congress regulates them. I would not bet on politicians making a wise choice.

Conservatives are about to get the opportunity to learn, once again, the consequences of their knee jerk preference for unquestioningly trusting large companies to self regulate

I am very confused here. Republicans are against these IT companies for being liberal and you are saying that the mistake for Republicans was to trust these companies to self regulate? So the best course for Republicans was to use government regulation? You do get the nonsense here, right?

Republicans argue that companies should be free to do whatever they choose to, and that consumers should be free to choose to do business with them or not.

When a company actually does things that Republicans don't like, the whining and outrage commences.

You can set your watch by it.

They're a political party, they're not going to allow ideology to get in the way of their own power. They write the laws and will write whatever law benefits them.

Indeed. However I am more interested in the self-identified citizens who vote for them, and stridently regurgitate the talking points over thanksgiving dinner.

Cliche mike named after distaste for McAnything and bringing up “racist uncle at Thanksgiving. Which meme is next, Mike?

Mine was real. He was a brother in law. And he was a stridently ignorant a**

As to the point you are trying to avoid, the only cliche is that the cliched views like the above are in fact widely held by republican voters

You're mistaking your strawmen for real conservative viewpoints. When conservatives disagree with a progressive program of increased regulation by appealing to the efficiency of the free market, they aren't submitting to a corporate feudal state, they aren't submitting to corporate Colosseum games. What they are doing is advocating against the march toward command economics which is based in an anti-market aesthetic which has no limiting principle.

Nonsense. I have heard and read this sort of view advocated perhaps hundreds of times. Particularly when the topic is treatment of consumers or the environment. And also in matter of banking and investment. The self-regulating corporation and its ever vigilant customers is bedrock Libertarianism.

I am a Republican and I am not complaining. People in power will always try to maximize their power, that is universal.

What a weird reflexive response from Libertarians.

Here we have the state extorting money from people presumed innocent. That's good, because it's business. Am I right?

Whereas free ankle bracelets for everyone who wants to provide surety that they will arrive in court is bad, because *that* is statist?

Put this tech in an ankle bracelet, and provide it for free to anyone willing to go home on their own recognizance:

One planned session highlights this tension. “How to get one-meter location-accuracy from Android devices,” scheduled for Thursday morning, promises to show how recent industry advances make it possible to pinpoint a person holding an Android gadget down to a few feet, even indoors.

(From the Google Developer's Conference.)

It's a tech that should reduce the need for incarceration in general.

So Google is in fact driving their business by preventing competitors from advertising.

Cool.

I don't deal with them because there is no third party verification for their advertising fees.

Dumbest answer possible. Android is open source. Android is not a big Google revenue stream. It is a cheap-to-be-defenseive product.

Now, if I suggested Apple ankle bracelets, that would be different ;-)

Not that "this [sort of] tech" has to use Google at all.

It's a tech that should reduce the need for incarceration in general.

This is good in the immediate future, but I worry about a future in which the government, which can cheaply prosecute all its citizens, can end up with 80% of the people on some kind of probation / ankle bracelet / home monitoring where you don't really have rights.

Depriving people of their rights should be expensive and inconvenient for the government.

Dystopia are possible, but I don't see ankle bracelets driving a police state in a society of limited government (Bill of Rights).

China on the other hand ..

Criminals are low-status. "If you have an ankle-bracelet, you are a criminal, and you deserve what you get."

It's very easy to boil this frog. Upper- and middle-class people would not tolerate a large number of their group being put into jail simultaneously. But ankle-bracelet them one at a time and they become part of The Other that it's okay for the government to abuse.

I understand your point, but your mistake is thinking we are not already living in a dystopia. It's just that it only impacts people who are regularly interacting with the penal system.

Good point.

As a culture, a good antidote would be respecting the rights of all, including felons.

This would be difficult and I often fall short myself.

If a citizen is innocent until proven guilty, then how are bail bonds any different than the obamacare mandate?

They effectively compel innocent people to engage in commercial transactions. They create captive markets with systemic incentives to increase prices. They create revenue streams for government on the backs of people caught in the system. And they put the price of a broken system on its participants.

I am assuming here that Libertarians would tend to side with individuals over a government bureaucracy. Especially a government function to which the founding fathers devoted a great deal of particular scrutiny

I'm in agreement with this comment. There's nothing "free" about the bail bonds market. It is a market that is entirely created and sustained by government and it's functions. As such, it should not surprise anyone that the bail bonds market might be rife with corruption. Apparently enough libertarians who are informed about criminal justice reform have noticed that that the Koch brothers are involved. And simply refusing to host ads for bail bondmen, does not, as others have noted, prevent people from finding bail bondsmen in search results. Google is completely within it's rights to display, or not display ads from whomever it wants.

On a side note, the internet these days is really rancid with scam artists, and it's nice to see one of the major web companies putting their foot down on some of it, even if their reasoning isn't specifically that most bond advertising is con-artistry (although I wouldn't be surprised). More web companies could get in the business of deciding not to host adds from companies that are likely fraudulent.

AlexT does not understand it seems how business works: the right of association is paramount to 'fairness'. When I consulted, and ran my own shop, I enjoyed freedom to do nearly anything I pleased (setting hours, which clients to take on, how much to charge, etc) but I noticed the one constant, like a law of gravity, is that businesses are completely amoral. Nothing save the profit motive motivates them. They will drop you at the drop of a hat, after years of being chummy, when they perceive their bottom line, going forward, is not being enhanced by your association. That is their right, it's annoying, but it's how business is conducted worldwide, save perhaps in a Libertarian think tank funded by Virginia tax payers and lottery money (is GMU still on the lottery dole? I think their arts program is). Nuff said, though I agree with AlexT that this Google decision is unfair.

Especially funny because you can specifically (and exclusively) target low-income neighborhoods in AdWords. No bid adjustments based solely on ethnicity (yet), though.

I'd think that if bail bonding truly bothered Google that perhaps Google would create a non-profit to offer bail bonds at the lowest possible cost (e.g., at a price just sufficient to cover costs, and assuming it could reject high-risk customers).

Although there are surely good arguments against bail bonds, as the accused must pay this cost to maintain their freedom even if they're ultimately found not guilty or charges are dropped.

BTW, the State of Wisconsin forbids bail bonding. The result seems to be lower bail overall, and a greater willingness of families to find the means to pay cash bail. Which presumably provides some incentive for accuseds to appear on their court dates.

Sounds like Wisconsin has a better answer than a non-profit bondsman.

I am with Wisconsin. I strongly disagree with the current bail practice. If the right to a speedy trial was not ignored, there would be limited need for bail. Also, it seems like the overall philosophy of bail should logically imply that the accused puts at risk an amount that would more than repay society for the crime, in case he does not show up for trial. If the defendant doesn't have that amount, he should stay in jail until the trial.

Guessing here that the ones who suffer the most and/or carry the burden are the poor, the innocent, the comparatively minor crimes, and the ones most likely to make amends and try to get back to a stable life.

In other words, as with mandatory health insurance, the innocent/least threatening to society (the healthy) carry the cost for the guilty/most likely to skip (the sick).

And neither the courts (the government) nor the bail bondsmen (the insurers) have any incentive to change it.

Should probably separate the issues of (1) the disproportionate burden on the poor, making the justice system yet one more government system that the rich can opt out of/minimize disruptions.

and (2) the fact that the system forces the innocent to subsidize the guilty.

and (2) the fact that the system forces the innocent to subsidize the guilty.

The criminal justice system is often a resource extraction system. Alex has written about this more than once: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/03/the-ferguson-kleptocracy.html

I think the government is at least twice the size it needs to be and is involved in way too much, but it should spend more money making sure the rights of everyone, including the guilty, are protected before, during, and after criminal trials.

Right. I thought of that as well. Alex has opposed penalty farming the poor, but really the bail complex is part of it.

"Penalty farming the poor"

Exactly, the bail bond system's business model - despite whether they are sometimes polite and sometimes make sure the defendants get dressed before trial - is built around extracting money from people that can't afford it.

It is the payday lending of the court system.

Payday lenders offer many convenient locations, expansive hours of operation, well it and clean offices, and probably free peppermint candies too.

"It should spend more money making sure the rights of everyone, including the guilty, are protected before, during, and after criminal trials."

Indeed. this is an area where the founders made themselves particularly clear.

"This is the largest step any corporation has taken on behalf of the millions of women who have loved ones in jails across this country" ... hmm...

I work in the digital industry. Google has pretty much dropped any facade of neutrality.

Play along with their politics or expect to get banned.

How long until they don't allow Gmail accounts to send or receive emails from bail bondsmen?

+1

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Postmodern progressives cannot understand or critically analyze the world in a reasoned and rational way

https://www.maddogslair.com/blog/postmodern-progressives-cannot-understand-or-critically-analyze-the-world-in-a-reasoned-and-rational-way

Ultimately this means the get every answer wrong, which is why the conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals and independents find the actions of the postmodern progressives to be shocking and unfathomable.

Postmodernism is a philosophy which does away with truth, knowledge, and the ability to understand anything except identity groups and whether one falls into a victim or victimizer group.

"Google: Today, we’re announcing a new policy to prohibit ads that promote bail bond services from our platforms. Studies show that for-profit bail bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years."

Google has decided, mostly because they are idiotic postmodernists, that the people who help people in need are the victimizers in the equation. This is illogical and makes no rational sense, but, for postmodernist, it does not need to make sense. All they need is two separate identity groups and the ability to tag one as a victim and the other as a victimizer.

How soon before we see Google tagging students as victim and professors as victimizer? After all the above paragraph works wonderfully when this change is made: "Google: Today, we’re announcing a new policy to prohibit ads that promote University services from our platforms. Studies show that Universities make most of their revenue from students including students from communities of color and low income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years."

Frankly, Universities do far more damage to low-income and coloreds than do bail bondsmen. And when professors speak up about these problems they are shut down and silenced.

Paul Levy pens his resignation letter in the Amy Wax Affirmative Action kerfuffle -- https://www.maddogslair.com/blog/paul-levy-pens-his-resignation-letter-in-the-amy-wax-affirmative-action-kerfuffle

If you are young and black or colored, the progressive left wants to destroy you ... -- https://www.maddogslair.com/blog/if-you-are-young-and-black-or-colored-the-progressive-left-wants-to-destroy-you

The Ship of Fools at Google cannot accurately determine whether the University or the Bail Bondsmen are friend or foe of those that they have proclaimed: "Victim!" Googlers inability to rationally evaluate these issues means they will take two all but identical conditions and find that one, the bail bondsmen, are victimizers, but the other, Universities, are glorious helpers.

The problem with this is that the University does far more damage to people of color than do bail bondsmen. Universities use affirmative action to attract underqualified people of color because there is cachet in high numbers of coloreds at a University. The problem is that underqualified people seldom graduate because the program rigor is mismatched to their abilities. As a result, many of these students do poorly at University, many drop out of school, and nearly all of them end up with high levels of debt and poor post-academic qualifications.

Googlers should be calling out the Universities and praising the bail bondsmen, but they are doing the opposite because they do not rely on reason, facts or critical thinking, but instead relies on postmodernist fuzzy logic to make decisions.

This is the rise of the idiot-savant culture. The Googlers are savants at their primary tasks, but in every other area of life, work, and society they are idiots. The tragedy is they, like so many idiot-savants, have been Dunning-Kruger-ed into believing they have skills and talents where they are incompetent.

The problem here is that the Googlers will not suffer from their actions, it is the people of color and the poor who will suffer. The Googlers continue to injure these groups because they suffer no consequences for their malign actions.

Perhaps they should.

This is the same reason that postmodern progressive politicians continue to act in ways which injure their constituents, they do not pay the price for their actions instead they frequently benefit from these malign actions.

Mark Sherman

"The problem here is that the Googlers will not suffer from their actions, it is the people of color and the poor who will suffer. The Googlers continue to injure these groups because they suffer no consequences for their malign actions."
Yeah, because they won't see ADs chilling for bondsmen. We all know ads don't lie and (ma)ds people only have your best interests in their hearts.
I really love how chills are despairing!

Wait, I thought financial success and market power was the ultimate measure of intelligence, effort, and value.

If Google are progressive idiots, get me some more of that

First of all, I think Google has the right to choose what to do or not. To fight that position because they sided with a liberal point of view is stupid for any conservative. Second, I think they are playing numbers here. They think the PR for this will reward them more than the revenue from these ads. If they are wrong, they are paying a monetary price for their bias, which again, is fine by me.

A more interesting gamble is that google is communicating to its advertisers that the buyers are investing in brand building around a playform that may be arbitrary or fickle.

Why liberal? The other strange assumption on this page is that the Kochs are suddenly Progressive. Maybe instead the Kochs are thinking through a reduction in the power of government, and associated rent seeking.

You could be right. There are many people in the Republican party favoring "reform" in our incarceration system. From an ideological perspective, I think most of those are liberal anyway, which is fine (conservatives are allowed to hold liberal views right?).

The challenge with the justice issue is it gets conservatives all tangled up in conflict between authoritarian impulses, law and order fetishism, racism, fear of crime, and knee jerk antiliberalism on the one hand.

And original intent constitutionalism, small government ideology, fear of an oppressive state, and fascination with out of control bureaucratic boondoggles on the other.

The potential for mind exploding cognitive dissonance is enormous

Sure sure, there are a thousand ways to make these generalizations on both sides. Both parties want government, but different parts of government, to expand. There's nothing wrong with that, unless your intent is only trolling other people.

Right now this particular generalization is very relevant to the particular issue at hand in the original post.

The conflicting impulses are in full display, on both bail bonds and google ad censoring.

And i should add that this subthread is about the question of is Koch a liberal

Google is banning ads aka paid placements - organic search results are still fine, including reviews of bail bondsmen, etc.

Put another way, Google is simply refusing to *profit* from this industry and refusing to allow money to skew access to information.

How again is this a bad thing???

Because do you think really Google will stop there? They are not profiting why would they keep organic search showing? Their goal is to follow bail reform and help to eliminate bail completely, eventually. Which means people who can not afford the full bail amount or cash bail will stay in jail. Bringing us, taxpayer citizens a high cost of living because we will have to provide for them while in prison. Check around. New Jersey crime rates and how they are doing with bail reform. Check MA and the crime rates and many other states. The fact here is that without a bail bond people really have no choice but to pay up the full bail in cash or stay in jail with a high risk to their communities. Why? Because when someone pays for the bond they may be liable for the bail amount but if the person decides to not show up they simply lose the money and that person charged with a crime is still out there free. When a person is released with a bail company they may pay less and they have payment plans with no interest, they have court date reminders and they are closely watched. If they don't show for court, the bail agents will find them and bring them back. That's the bigger picture that Google is missing. We know they don't want or need money but taking sides without really looking into the details of how bail bonds work in every state is simply shameful. Google is taking sides and forgetting the end user, the customer. They can cover it all they want but the bottom line here is that besides charging a small fee for the service, bail agents make sure people arrested come back to face their crimes in court.

"They are not profiting why would they keep organic search showing?"

To my knowledge Google blocks no, none, zip, organic search because that is the one thing that guarantees them business.

If they start blocking, everyone bolts to Bing or whatever.

If they pulled this same stunt with abortion providers your computer would be caked in rage spittle.

Google stopped accepting the ads because a change.org petition demanded it. The petition was based on the idea that people accused of property crimes ought to be released without having to post bail, and that bail bond services profit at the expense of those (poor) people.

As far as politicizing Internet services -- that ship has already sailed. Both Google and its major competitors, Yahoo (Oath) and Facebook, heavily censor what they call "hate speech" which is any political view to the right of Marx. Naturally, they now want Washington to regulate their industry so that un-censored competitors to them such as Gab can't survive.

"and its major competitors, Yahoo (Oath) and Facebook, heavily censor what they call 'hate speech' which is any political view to the right of Marx."
The more the neonazis squirm, the funnier it gets.

I have to ask about the following statement "Indeed, they are a necessary service for the legal system to function."
What country in the world, besides the United States uses this system. Are you saying that their legal systems don't function?

"Both of these effects mean that more people will find themselves in jail for longer."

Let the left shoot themselves in the foot. And why is it necessarily a bad thing if people find it more difficult to post bail? It could end up reducing crime, which means that Google could be unintentionally promoting more law and order. Win-win.

Arrogant hypocrites.

It perfectly applies the motto of that bright WSJ journalist recently deceased: the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Sounds like Google are closet racists.

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