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Google to Face Senate Antitrust Panel This Week

 3:28 pm on Sep 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google to Face Senate Antitrust Panel This Week [nytimes.com]
Google's slogan may be don't be evil, but a growing chorus of antitrust regulators in the United States and Europe want to know if the company has lived up to that creed.

This week, those concerns — especially whether Google gives its own businesses preferred placement in search results, thwarting competition and harming consumers — will have their most public airing to date, when Google's chairman, Eric E. Schmidt, testifies before a Senate antitrust panel. Some of Google's competitors will also testify.

“Google is a great American success story, but its size, position and power in the marketplace have raised concerns about its business practices, and raised the question of what responsibilities come with that power,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who is a member of the antitrust subcommittee and who as the attorney general of Connecticut played a leading role among the states that sued Microsoft.



 9:47 pm on Sep 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

It was only a matter of time, I've said it all along. The message was on the wall since the Florida update and now the FTC & regulators in Europe are going to rip Google a new one.

This case is nothing like the Microsoft case. While Microsoft was directly competing and disadvantaging a small number of software & computer hardware companies. Google are directly competing with the entire webmasters community, travel, media, entertainment & software industries (I probably missed a few more industries) as well as many many millions of other businesses world wide. A massive abuse of power on a scale never seen before.

The outcome of this enquiry is going to be a game changer and is going to send a clear signal to all the other search engines thinking of going down that same path.

Time to pay for your disgusting abuse of power Google!

[edited by: Web_speed at 10:08 pm (utc) on Sep 19, 2011]


 10:01 pm on Sep 19, 2011 (gmt 0)


I don't see how this enquiry is going to be truly concluded and justly resolved without:

a) Regulators taking a long hard look under the hood and going over the "Algo" with a magnifying glass

b) Breaking this company into pieces, search being a separate entity.

c) Regulators will also probebly seek to impose clear guidelines on how a SERP page should look. "How many free results", "how many ads" "search company self product promotion ratio and on page location" etc.

Unfortuntly it is going to get ugly now that we have regulators involved but it was inevitable. search is way too important nowdays, it is basicly the gate to doing business on the web... and the regulators are going to take a long hard look at these issues this time around.


 11:09 pm on Sep 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

i seen this coming!

Their concerns are valid, just do a search here on webmasterworld. Google does give special treatment to it's own in house content.

Don't forget, what made Google possible "even though a lot of people forgot" was anti trust/monopoly regulation against Microsoft.

Windows/Internet Explorer/MSN was going to be the Supreme Gate to doing business online!

If left unchecked IE and MSN would have been the default largest search today.

They literally force Microsoft to give people a choice in browsers and default search engine, and follow standards that gave other companies the ability to compete. Remember Microsoft could have literally decided what website you went from a OS stand point.

Google need to be checked also!

Good job DOJ!


 11:22 pm on Sep 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Could this be the end of Google Local? I sure hope so. Add to that Wikipedia, YouTube, etc...


 11:45 pm on Sep 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Could this be the end of Google Local?

I dont think so but it is sure going to be the end of "Local" taking 2/3 of the 1st serp page. Regulators will probably force Google to push all self promoted products to SERPS footers or left hand side menu (as links to the service or something like that)... there is also going to be much more control enforced on the way the serps "look" and the "objectivity" is sure going to be very closely scrutinised.


 12:42 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sep 21 has to be the most interesting day for webmasters this year. Lets see them getting grilled from an entity more powerful than them for a change. I bet something funny and scary will come out from this at the end.


 12:54 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I predict:

The Gov will make more money and get more powerful.

Google will have to give something up to many senators (either over or under the table)

Webmasters and users will only see negative consequence from all this.


 1:16 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I can't wait for the emails and notes between the different teams on the impact of SERPS in ad revenue. Does anyone believe that no one said anything about it during updates? Search is pretty much their only source of money. Soon the FTc is going to look at the algo and see; I have a feeling some people are mighty nervous.

No way they'd send emails now, but no doubt they were careless back then. Google has to save all communications, IIRC, since they are a publicly traded company. The Skyhook Wireless and Java case has shown their true face. Just search for those cases.

Since they came under heat, Google probably has the decision makers work together in one area or office so no paper trail is left.
The final entry in one much-redacted e-mail thread came in reply to a colleague’s pledge to get back with some detail about Skyhook.

“PLEASE DO NOT! Thread-kill and talk to me off-line with any questions,” [nytimes.com...]

My dream would be to force Google to totally separate them, let search be totally separate from ads, as in two different companies. "Trust us, we're honest" when tens of billions are at stake, just doesn't do it.


 1:41 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

call me a grizzled old cynic but I see very little changing. Few cosmetic things around the edge, some warm and cosy headlines, obviously some dollars changing hands. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.


 2:40 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

call me a grizzled old cynic but I see very little changing. Few cosmetic things around the edge, some warm and cosy headlines, obviously some dollars changing hands. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

:). Google couldn't possibly have enough money for that, their enemies have ten times as much [wired.com...]

^ It's been long in the making, Google has stepped on a lot of toes during their short reign, and their phony 'cuteness' is going to work against them this time.


 3:15 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

My only comment would be that some businesses advance by sharing, helping and partnering with others strategically.

For the most part it seems that Google consumes competitors.

I know which line I would rather walk long-term.


 5:08 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

When behemoths and monoliths chat the rest of us are ground into flour. But there will be a change of some kind, though I predict it will only be in the caloric count left over for the bread-eating (read: "let 'em eat cake") non-behemoth/monolith types. IE.: webmasters from hobby to mom 'n' pop to middle biz. The big boys will have champagne and caviar.


 7:08 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi. I know many here have been burnt by Google, but let's keep some perspective and not wish the worst for the company. It's just an initial hearing and Google has invested a lot the last few years on lobbying. I predict that neither the sky will fall on Google nor will the meeting be without consequences.

The goal of the committee is not to destroy Google nor exact vengeance on the company. It is to examine possible anti-trust, which would take years to prove. Meanwhile Google could still continue its expansion. The hearing will not turn off the effects of Panda.

When Google Plus was released, many haters here said it would fail - wish it would fail. I warned them that it was wishful thinking. The public is not on the side of webmasters concerning Google. For the public, Goggle is still cool. The politicians won't have public opinion on their side if they do anything to Google.

I'm writing all this, and am not a Google lover, but I feel I have to be objective and not just lash out because I've been screwed by Google recently.


 8:45 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Somebody will one day build a better search engine. Google will have to adapt or die.

In the meanwhile do we want governments controlling the web? Sometimes the Wild West can be a fun and profitable place to play.


 10:08 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Harry and superclown2,
I strongly believe that G is cheating and behaving unfairly to boost its bottom line at site-owner's expense. Why should I hope for them to keep doing it?

And I don't like one company to be able to play god by controlling this much of the internet. It never ends good. No one audits them, they just say 'trust us.' Ummmmm, I don't trust them and we shouldn't have to trust them. I am not saying that the government should write the algo, but let's have an independent party see what's going on. The internet is too big and too important to essentially be controlled by one entity.

Google was one of the cheerleaders against Microsoft back then and they didn't wait until "someone one day would build a better OS." IE was free as well, and no one forced people to buy Windows.


 10:22 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I strongly believe that G is cheating and behaving unfairly to boost its bottom line at site-owner's expense. Why should I hope for them to keep doing it?

I fully agree. But I would rather that other companies, or a coalition of interested parties, took over Google's mantle than that governments got involved too much. Therein lies chaos. Which government is going to tell us all what to do, the Americans, British, Russian? Give any government an inch and they will take a mile. The Internet, rightly or wrongly, is seen by many of us as best left outside government interference. Now teaching the masses how Google threatens their privacy and therefore their personal wellbeing, or broadcasting the fact that prices can be shoved up by Google's (alleged) anti-competitive practices; that's another matter.


 10:30 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

each gov already has their own laws and they already have to abide by them. IIRC, in France they were ordered to allow someone to advertise on Adwords for example because they are a monopoly.

You need to read about what happened to Microsoft to better have an understanding, limits are placed on what they can do when it effects competition. Your idea works in theory, but not in reality. In the Wild West you mention, you could also shoot someone that you disliked, or burn their store down :).


 11:01 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would dearly love to see Google forced to toe the line and stop any (still alleged) restrictive practices but do you really want to see us all subjected to the same governmental dead hand that suffocates business out in the real world? Heck, I first came onto the web to escape the miles of useless red tape and politically correct garbage I had to put up with. Our UK government is run by people who make major business decisions despite never having done a real day's work in their lives, who declare war despite not knowing an RPG from a popgun. I would rather the web ruled the web thanks, and if G is a major player right now then so were Altavista, Yahoo and, yes, Microsoft at some point. Remember that almost Google's entire income comes from people clicking on ads that other people pay for. I have no need to encourage crime by pointing out how easily a system like that could be brought down overnight. Google will not reign for ever and what comes afterwards may be even worse for us but it couldn't be worse than control by a bunch of career politicians.

In short, I fully support any moves that can be made to cut Google down to size but I am concerned that this may be the thin end of another wedge for government interference in our freedom.


 11:34 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Give any government an inch and they will take a mile

A very good point, and absolutely true. So is this: Give any business an inch and they will take a mile.

Ho hum.

The wild west analogy is good too. Right now Google is the cattle baron Fletcher from Shane. If you are onside with Fletcher, sorry Google, then you can live the high life. If you fall foul then you can only hope that Shane will ride into town.


 11:59 am on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)


Google's in the business of collecting data and their partners include government, the NSA and others. Google has honed their collecting skills to the point they capture sensitive information all the time, a sub base that's not supposed to exist or top secret satellite activity for example. Their watching skills rival that of, and perhaps are aided by, our own government and military.

Does anyone really believe that the outcome of this panzy arse panel will do anything but whitewash Google even further? Perhaps this is even a pre-emptive move, so that they can say "we're closely watched" later on when someone discovers questionable activity, such as camera equipment mysteriously capturing people's wifi and personal data "by accident".

Smoke and mirrors, Google is too well connected and will remain that way so long as they stay on the cutting edge of watching YOU.

Brett, can you remove that +1 button from the bottom of the page now, please? It's hardly getting used but is most assuredly gathering data, perhaps if some branches of government are questioning how big google has become maybe we should too ?


 12:07 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

but do you really want to see us all subjected to the same governmental dead hand that suffocates business out in the real world?
HUH? Please read this first [en.wikipedia.org...] for an overview on what antitrust is and who is subjected to it.

Then tell us how we were suffocated by the breaking up of Standard Oil, At&T and actions on Microsoft and IBM?
Google LOVES the big government--when it's convenient to them.
They even love software patent law--when it's convenient to them.

It's amazing how we are used to this, but it isn't normal. You have a site for 10 years, employees and all and all of the sudden Google decides it's a bad site. Why was my site penalized? 'We can't tell you, in fact we may not even tell you if you have a penalty, but spelling might matter. Your cheating competitor might be caught too, or he might not. Trust us, we're fair, but can't tell you' Meanwhile their earnings keep increasing even as they lose market share and pseudo-Gods speak cryptically as if they are having fun torturing people that lost their livelihoods with one stroke of the keyword.

Or, you have a honest business model for years and all of the sudden Google declares it not desirable because of 'user experience.' So...how come users don't mind it when Google does it and stuffs its links on top of every search?


 1:12 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Having been in business for more than 45 years I've built up a number of them just to see them collapse, sometimes almost overnight, because of factors beyond my control. Each time, many of us adjusted to the new conditions and prospered even better. My online business was destroyed by Google too, but again like many others I'm now getting back to where I was by sheer dogged hard work and I am confident of the future. We can adapt to Google because ultimately, unlike governments, they cannot make us do what they want us to do. Fall in line with Google quality standards? Why not. Mass produce thousands of spammy sites with paid links? Yep, if we have to. Give up? Never. Google, unlike the government, can't throw us in gaol if we break their rules. If the regulators get their teeth in too firmly and too many shackles are placed on the only search engine that really matters right now, the web could become a spammer's paradise with those of us in Europe and the Americas forced to bow to to all sorts of compliance regulations whilst the rest of the world with weaker or less 'ethical' governments is allowed to run riot. Let us not wish our own destruction upon ourselves.


 1:36 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google's Search and Adwords, and Own Content is a conflict of interest and has become so since Google started putting ads with Organic Results "instead on the side bar labeled as Advertisement" and since Google start Advertising "not ranking" it's own content and content partners with Organic Results "instead of on the side bar labeled as Advertisement"

We all helped Google. I remember when everyone was against Microsoft's and AOL control of the internet, and I did everything within my power to switch people to Firefox with Google as the default search engine.

I changed everyone in my network to Firefox "which was Open Source", and Google "which wasn't going to do no evil".

I was right with Firefox, wrong with Google.

A lot of us thought Google would not monetize search, but would make their money on its partner network "Adsense on websites". I was shocked when I first seen Ads on the side of the search results, but felt it was only fair that Google needed to earn an income. But when Ad's started show at the top of all Organic results, I knew there was a problem.

We neglect the power other business could have used to dominate the internet:

ISPs could redirect all searches to their own Search Engines or the ones they partner with.
ISPs could penalize sites not meeting their own criteria. Imagine an ISP Panda Update that wasn't audited or reviewed by any third party. Their own desecration to block certain site not meeting their own internal private criteria.
ISPs could promote their own content above any content on the internet
ISPs could give higher priority to their own partner site, while giving less priority to other sites
ISP could purchase certain website, and add feature to promote those site above other sites

Operating system could force all search, and address through their own system. Instead of going to a website you would be present with a list of search results "including Ads before the actual site you wanted to visit"

Browser could force you to a default search engine, not allowing a choice of other search engines

All of these are possible, but there are laws on the book stopping them.

ISP must only be a gateway, and not show favoritism to its on content or partners content.
Operating system can not redirect a user’s traffic or advertise over top of other sites
Browsers have to abide by standard that are publicly open to all.

Google as Search is similar to a ISP, Browser and should be held accountable to the same rules:

No favoritism to its own content, partner sites, and advertisers
No Restricting traffic or advertisments on searches targeted toward another's site
Follow open standard with their algorithm and be audited by a third party as to its fairness with regard to competition.
Separate Search Result from Advertisement in a Clear manor which is labeled, and easily distinguishable by the average user.
Block and deranking of website should follow a set of standard set by law
No ISP, OS, Browser, or Search should not be allowed to block or de rank a web site unless it violate a set of rules known to all, and an attempt should be made to alert the site owner as to the exact rules that led to it’s blocking or de-ranking.
A Defined Appeal process for all Blocking and De Rankings.
Legal course of action for losses and damages from incorrect blockings and de-rankings


 3:39 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

A Guide to the Senate Judiciary Hearing [googlecompetition.blogspot.com]


 4:20 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

have a nice day :)

Follow open standard with their algorithm and be audited by a third party as to its fairness with regard to competition.
Separate Search Result from Advertisement in a Clear manor which is labeled, and easily distinguishable by the average user.

I'm all for it ^.

Their most important point 'Google is a choice' is phoney. Suppose Google penalized all its competitors to -30 or even a -3 (enough to ruin your traffic). How many users would notice it or leave Google because of it? Almost no one but they'd bankrupt their competitors, especially the young upstarts?

Google ranks search results to deliver the best answers to users, and that is the only consideration – not political viewpoints, and not advertising dollars.

Who still believes this crap when you get 3-4 ads, 7 local links, news, and images...or you need to scroll 2-3 times with a popular screen size to see organic?

We have a rigorous scientific testing process to assess how consumers respond to potential algorithm changes...We understand that it’s frustrating for websites when their sites fall in the search results. That’s why we provide a huge amount of information to websites about how to improve their performance.
That's what you say. Funny how they show a propaganda video they made as proof. Yeah, we know what you provide but the best one is to open your wallet and sped to become a brand, or have NYT write about you unless you can Tweet to MC. We're overwhelmed with your help.

The Internet is the ultimate level playing field.

Before you went public and started to squeeze every last penny, maybe.

... I've had enough. The Android one was funny, considering the emails that surfaced.


 7:12 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google will continue to get away with whatever they want to. They are above the law.


 7:46 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I tried searching for the time of the live video broadcast on C-SPAN.org but did not find it.

If anyone know what time and which one of C-SPAN's channels will be carrying the video broadcast of the hearing, please post the info.


 8:25 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is a guide, not a gatekeeper.

Windows isn't a Gatekeeper, it's and Helping System.

A Browser isn't a gatekeeper, it's Translation device.

ISP isn't a gatekeeper, it's travel assistant.


It takes a broadband connection to get onto the Internet, but consumers don’t need Google to access the web.

Nor do consumers need a browser, they can wget html text all day to find their information. Using a browser shouldn't give the browser company the right to direct your traffic based on their business needs "I.E. DOJ vs Microsoft, which led to Google gaining access to Internet Explorer default search" People didn't have to use Internet Explorer to get to the internet, BUT Internet Explorer commanded so much of the Market of Web users, it allowed Microsoft to triumph it's products, and parnters above all other, hurting competition "Hurting Google at the time"

Google serves more like a GPS on the Internet highway—not an on-ramp. It helps people get around, but it’s not necessary. If someone knows where he wants to go, he can navigate to those destinations directly

Internet Explorer serves more like a GPS "to" the Internet highway-not an on-ramp. It helps people to get around, but it's not necessary. if someone knows where he wants to go, he can navigate "using another browser" to those destination directly.

Search engines are popular and useful, but they’re just one of many ways to navigate the web.

"Browsers like Internet Explorer" are popular and useful, but they're just on of the many way to navigate the web.

It's so funny how attitudes change when the tables are turned.

Now I like Google, and have been in partnership with Google for many year, but I don't give 100% Always right cards to any company. On some points Google is doing a great job, and doing it fairly, but on the point of un-fairly manipulating the search results to favor it's profitability over real users wants, Google has been crossing the line, and need to be checked.


 9:20 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Who still believes this crap when you get 3-4 ads, 7 local links, news, and images...or you need to scroll 2-3 times with a popular screen size to see organic?

Scroll?.... they've even disabled natural page scroll. Try scrolling the serp pages using your keyboard arrow keys and see what i mean.... natural scroll has been replaced by a little pointer jumping from one result to the next, starting at result 1 (which is normally an ad). Not only they've pushed the organic results down as far as they possibly can, they also make it quite annoying to try and scroll down to them when/if using the keyboard arrow keys (done on laptops alot)...

I just shared a link to the Antitrust news story with all my friends on facebook. All 3750 of them. I feel it is my job to bring Google's wrong doings to every one's (i know) attention. I've helped creating this monster and now that they've turned bad i will do everything in my power to help bring them to justice and educate people about the alternatives.

This 53 message thread spans 2 pages: 53 ( [1] 2 > >
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