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Sens. Herb Kohl and Mike Lee call for Google antitrust probe
Brett_Tabke




msg:4399561
 12:53 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sens. Herb Kohl and Mike Lee call for Google antitrust probe
[latimesblogs.latimes.com]
The chairman and top Republican on the Senate antitrust subcommittee have asked regulators to investigate Google Inc.'s search practices, saying they were concerned the company was biasing results to favor its own products.

The senators -- panel Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) -- sent a letter Monday to the Federal Trade Commission, which already is conducting a broad antitrust investigation into Google's business practices, including search and advertising.

Kohl and Lee questioned Google Chairman Eric Schmidt at a contentious hearing in September. Schmidt's answers, along with testimony from two Google competitors, raised questions that should be explored by regulators, the senators said in their letter to FTC Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz.

"We believe these allegations regarding Google's search engine practices raise important competition issues," wrote Kohl and Lee, whose committee has been conducting its own review of Google. "We are committed to ensuring that consumers benefit from robust competition in online search and that the Internet remains the source of much free-market innovation."

 

renomart




msg:4399565
 1:36 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I hope the court system makes Google reply to the allegations via email.

Then the court should make their decision without any appeal.

Just like in real life eh Google? What's good for the goose is good for the gander I say...

snickles121




msg:4399578
 2:18 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I hope they do too, but I don't see any evidence with adsense or google products that relates to these allegations.

However, it is weird that since panda, my adsense ad space ctr has went way up and the cpc has went up. However, I can't put the two together yet.

The reason: Bottom line is corporate profits, but who knows.

They might not be doing anything wrong, but I still believe a 3rd party should review it to make sure.

renomart




msg:4399582
 2:49 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Nothing to do with Adsense or Google products, just taking a swipe at how hard it is to resolve any sort of matter with large, faceless corporations :p

renomart




msg:4399589
 3:15 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just search for 'books' or 'video' in Google. They are at #1

Web_speed




msg:4399590
 3:23 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just search for 'books' or 'video' in Google. They are at #1


I just hope someone is taking screen shoots... absolutely appalling!

J_RaD




msg:4399595
 4:07 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

It had to get really blatant before they noticed huh?

Donna




msg:4399601
 5:09 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year, Google !

John_Galt




msg:4399679
 11:19 am on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's about time that the politicians in Washington -- decidedly the most innovative and productive people in our nation -- began investigating Google to protect the free market. This is necessary as a market is never truly as free as when the government investigates it and looks toward issuing constraints upon it.

Gibble




msg:4399738
 2:41 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just search for 'books' or 'video' in Google. They are at #1


Well, technically, the google books site is 100% about books. Amazon sells everything under the sun. So arguably, google books is more relevant to a search for books than Amazon...

DeeCee




msg:4399764
 4:16 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

One thing to notice about all the new business areas Google has been getting into, is that we all (web site owners) provided them all the free market research to hang us with. We used Google Analytics, and they provided us all the rope to hang ourselves with.

Not only to track page and user stats. but they provided web-site owners with lots of conversion tools so "we" could calculate exactly what content converts, which business areas on the Internet make money, ..., ..., ...
This is one reason that even on sites where I use Google Analytics, I have NEVER set up conversion tracking or anything related to tracking $$$ at all, using G$$ Analytics. Google is the largest immediate competitor to any business area they choose to get into.

So basically, we handed over all the free market research any company would want to Google, so they could enter every area that is already documented to make money to compete with us all, with
    a) Unlimited resources and infra-structure to compete.
    b) knowing how to make it successful, and
    c) having the opportunity to promote their own stuff first

They are doing more and more to keep users away from the real web-sites in many cases.
Adding Google Preview is one such thing I get visited by many, many times a day.
I track logs heavily, and Google preview has one of two effects when used.

Google in essence "steals" a large viewable picture of the web-page (not a mere thumbnail), and in addition extract separate full-text pieces to show in nice blobs on top of the picture, so people can check/sample your content without visiting you. (That preview is done by a FULL access and page-load (loading all CSS, graphics, ...) off your web-site, with your physical and financial support. Not by a user, but by the uninterested "Google Preview" Bot.

    If the human user is further interested, you then have to support a second full page load, when the actual user checks in.
    If the human user does not show up, you had a full page-load for no reason at all.
    If the human user does show up on your web-site, you have then had to support TWO full accesses, which in the old days would have been just one.

It is all designed to keep users around on the Google search pages for longer at a time, where the searcher see more ads (often for Google's own products, Google's affiliate sites). Up to three large high-lighted (VERY high-paying) ads before ANY search results, 8 ads on right, and most of the real search results only below the fold where you must scroll to see them.

Plus, since Google is conveniently failing to block out the Spam sites with stolen content, many of the "real" search results are pure junk, further increasing the chance that a user choose to click on the "quality sites" in ads and Google's own businesses. Ref. my earlier postings on content from this site, where Spam sites rank high in the "real results" with titles and content stolen from WebMasterWorld.

The Google Preview feature is especially adept at this. The searcher moves his/her cursor over the preview button (right panel), and when returning from the preview load, all the right pane ads show up again, right where the user has focus. Larger chance for click on ads, each with another $1,$2,$3,$4 revenue per click to Google.

I wrote a blog entry on content-scrapers in general yesterday, and Google is in fact the largest documented content scraper in the world, which most of us invite in voluntarily, rather than block. As all other content scrapers, they have always been lifting our content for their own profit. Theoretically (in the old days) paying us back by sending visitors to web-sites. But the more Google gets focused on sending visitors only to paying "top entry ads" sites or as in this discussion over to Google's own competing businesses, the more they have in common with the basic content thieves out there.

My blocklists try to catch and block list content scrapers. So far Google is white-listed, but if their focus moves further towards keeping users in their "own" backyard, the larger the chance that Google gets blocked out as just another "common content scraper". Their search business model only works as long as they pay back the content copyright owners with actual visitors.

Without good search results, any search engine is merely an advertising page, which would get no visitors.

lexipixel




msg:4399844
 7:35 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I hope they do too, but I don't see any evidence with adsense or google products that relates to these allegations.


If you watch this video which shows Eric Schmidt's testimony to the Senate Antitrust Hearing into Google on 21 September 2011 -- with annotation and analysis by Foundem, (a UK based "vertical search and price comparison site"), you'll see not only that Google search and other Google products do unfairly promote Google, (and demote competitors), but that Schmidt is either entirely clueless about how Google operates or blatantly lied to Congress---

[youtube.com...]

And here's a link to a Guardian article about why Foundem has an interest in seeing that Google plays fair:

[guardian.co.uk...]

londrum




msg:4399845
 7:50 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just search for 'books' or 'video' in Google. They are at #1

here's something wierd... if you look for stuff like "search engine", "web search", "internet search" and "internet search engines" then they are nowhere near the top. they've put all their competitors first. that must be rigged, surely, because that's the kind of thing that they SHOULD be top of

DeeCee




msg:4399846
 7:51 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

As has been shown by quite a few of the current hearings with CEOs (or even our current Attorney General) on the carpet for various offenses, being "clueless" as you call it seems to be in fact a perfect condition to be in. An almost perfect defense. :)

Claim you are merely clueless, and it drags out the discussions forever and ever, as no one apparently knows exactly what is actually going on. See the news today, and even Allen Stanford (awaiting trial on his Ponzi scheme) is now claiming that same thing. :)
    "I was beat up in prison, got bonked on the head, and cannot remember a single thing about what happened in the past."

It all happens purely by accident.. Whether it is giving guns to drug cartels, running a Ponzi scheme, or prioritizing search content.
"It must be fairies or little green men implementing it all at night, when it is dark. They were just nice enough to let me profit on their actions."

"I am clueless" is the step right before claiming your (US) fifth amendment rights.

[edited by: DeeCee at 8:21 pm (utc) on Dec 20, 2011]

DeeCee




msg:4399848
 7:58 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

here's something wierd... if you look for stuff like "search engine", "web search", "internet search" and "internet search engines" then they are nowhere near the top. they've put all their competitors first. that must be rigged, surely, because that's the kind of thing that they SHOULD be top of

Aah.. But Google do not want to brag! :)
So they gave themselves a penalty score on the search department. :)

superclown2




msg:4399852
 8:09 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Like the Mills of God, the FTC grind exceeding slow, but exceeding fine. Should be very interesting to see what effect this has on their stock price.

lexipixel




msg:4399854
 8:17 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

As has been shown by quite a few of the current hearings with CEOs (or even our current Attorney General) on the carpet for various offenses, being "clueless" as you call it seems to be in fact a perfect condition to be in.


That ship has sailed, and Schmidt missed the boat. He's spoken too often about how Google works, why it works that way, and his educational and professional history demonstrate an expert knowledge of software engineering, and lexical analysis ---

[en.wikipedia.org...]

(yeah, I know -- I'm citing Wikipedia, but Google, Bing and even AltaVista tell me that's that best source for such info).

DeeCee




msg:4399856
 8:27 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

lexipixel,
I hope you are right about the ship.
Being an "expert", however, likely does not prevent the "I am clueless" defense.

When that stops working, there is always the "on advice from counsel, I decline to answer" defense.
Unfortunately in the latter case they cannot then selectively answer some questions, but must take the fifth on ALL questions, which is always entertaining. (Yeah.. I must be sick. I like watching such hearings. :))

Samizdata




msg:4399878
 9:43 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

if you look for stuff like "search engine", "web search", "internet search" and "internet search engines" then they are nowhere near the top

Searching for Google from their own website is like phoning yourself to see if you are in.

The company is surely open to criticism, but not on this particular count.

...

frontpage




msg:4399880
 9:48 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google made a tactical mistake in only supporting the present political party currently controlling the White House with campaign cash, personnel, and support.

If they were more less partisan they probably would have had more cover in Congress for their illegal enterprises.

lexipixel




msg:4399889
 10:10 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

on advice from counsel, I decline to answer

IANAL, but that might be considered Contempt of Congress if he's not personally charged with anything and is withholding information. But lets leave that to Congress -- after all that's what we pay them the big bucks for, (and protecting his right to cover up for a corporation is what lobbyists pay bigger bucks for).

If they were more less partisan

You've got one (D) and one (R) leading this inquiry ... Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah)

wrldtrv




msg:4399900
 10:54 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

So I'll be the idiot in the bunch...

Isn't this sort of like saying that grocery stores can't display their own generic brands in prominent positions.

DeeCee




msg:4399903
 11:09 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Isn't this sort of like saying that grocery stores can't display their own generic brands in prominent positions.

Your local grocery store has the right to promote whatever gives them highest profit. But they still show other brands right next to it, because otherwise their customers would not come. You do not find "store brands" at the front of the store, and "other equivalent brands" at some obscure hidden isle a mile by foot away. (The equivalence to Google showing themselves and people that pay them on the first pages, and "others" down on pages 4-100).

In theory Google has a right to do what they want, except that Google's entire search business is based on showing content "lifted" from unrelated copyright owners. No one goes to Google search "to see some good ads". They go there to find valid and unbiased references to real content.

(Note again that using other people's copyrighted content to attract users would be called theft if not done by a search engine with valid content prioritization.)

As Google prioritize their own products more and more, and send less and less valid visitors to other sites, they get themselves excluded from even being allowed to visit many web-sites. As a site owner, why would I pay good network and server bandwidth to provide Google with free content for their search pages, if Google is not a significant source of "human" traffic? Which in the end would be a downer on their search and advertising business. Who would want to visit or even show ads on a search engine missing large parts of the Internet's "good" content.

DeeCee




msg:4399912
 11:27 pm on Dec 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

BTW.. If you have not seen it already, check out the UK Telegraph link in this thread: [webmasterworld.com...]

On engines being asked to eliminate the Pirate site content.

frontpage




msg:4400080
 1:16 pm on Dec 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

You've got one (D) and one (R) leading this inquiry ... Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah)


Google has sided in rather partisan way with the current administration. Which is a tactical error for them.

Google boss Eric Schmidt is one of the nation’s most politically active business leaders — a man who uses the cachet of the company he leads, as well as his own charisma, to build strategic alliances in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill.


In the 2008 election cycle, Schmidt campaigned actively for candidate Barack Obama from very early in primaries. Schmidt and his Google colleagues donated over $800,000 to Obama’s war chest, making the company one of his top-five contributors.


The source of the investigations has been from the Republican party.

Saddled with the perception that it is a darling of the Obama administration, Google may have it tough with Republicans.

The company whose chief executive campaigned for President Obama stands to become a target of investigations by multiple committees.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has promised to be an aggressive watchdog as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has led congressional Republicans in questioning whether Google has inappropriate ties to the Obama administration.


Watchdogs have also questioned Google’s ties to Democrats. The pro-free-market group National Legal and Policy Center, for example, has labeled the company the Halliburton of the Obama years. Halliburton was closely associated with the administration of President George W. Bush.


[thehill.com...]


Don't put all your eggs in one basket, it may come back to haunt you.

7_Driver




msg:4400082
 1:21 pm on Dec 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I hope the court system makes Google reply to the allegations via email. Then the court should make their decision without any appeal.


Nah. Court should just shut off their Internet access without notice. If Google enquires what they've done wrong, court should say:

"You have violated our quality guidelines".

Any further enquiries from Google should be met with the same response.

J_RaD




msg:4400144
 3:16 pm on Dec 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

^ hahhahhhah

Sorry google your quality score is low, feel free to shoot our support staff an email.

oops now your internet access has been suspended for repeated low quality score violations... don't know what you did wrong? So sorry run along now.

lexipixel




msg:4400146
 3:17 pm on Dec 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Halliburton was closely associated with the administration of President George W. Bush


There's an understatement -- most people don't realize former Halliburton CEO / USA VP Cheney's roots can be traced all the way back to the Nixon whitehouse in the GOP bloodline, and the crossover between Bush senior's job as CIA director for 30 years and Cheney's for-profit interests in para-military and oil drilling, (and Marvin Bush's ties to certain security firms), dwarfs any damage or favor a Google / Democrat connection could ever bring.

...but to stay on topic, I hope congress applies bi-partisan pressure on Google and takes appropriate action to prevent any and all anti-competitive practices in search (from Google or anyone else).

superclown2




msg:4400397
 7:18 am on Dec 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing nothing about this on the stock price websites. Strange, it's as though there's a news blackout. This is something that could severely impact the company so I would have thought that investors would be very interested in it.

wrldtrv




msg:4401488
 2:07 pm on Dec 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Your local grocery store has the right to promote whatever gives them highest profit. But they still show other brands right next to it, because otherwise their customers would not come. You do not find "store brands" at the front of the store, and "other equivalent brands" at some obscure hidden isle a mile by foot away. (The equivalence to Google showing themselves and people that pay them on the first pages, and "others" down on pages 4-100).

In theory Google has a right to do what they want, except that Google's entire search business is based on showing content "lifted" from unrelated copyright owners. No one goes to Google search "to see some good ads". They go there to find valid and unbiased references to real content.

(Note again that using other people's copyrighted content to attract users would be called theft if not done by a search engine with valid content prioritization.)

As Google prioritize their own products more and more, and send less and less valid visitors to other sites, they get themselves excluded from even being allowed to visit many web-sites. As a site owner, why would I pay good network and server bandwidth to provide Google with free content for their search pages, if Google is not a significant source of "human" traffic? Which in the end would be a downer on their search and advertising business. Who would want to visit or even show ads on a search engine missing large parts of the Internet's "good" content.


I get all that. I'm not arguing what would make a 'better' google. Just arguing legality with regards to the antitrust investigation. Sure, Google would be just another spam search engine if they only showed their own results. Just not sure hows that's illegal. Interested to see what happens.

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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