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US Senate to Investigate Google for Antitrust Issues

     

trinorthlighting

4:38 am on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Google's dominance in Internet search are among the issues the Senate's leading legislator on antitrust issues plans to scrutinize in the months ahead.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) specifically called out Google as a potential cause for concern. The senator in December urged the Justice Department to conduct a "careful review" of the search giant's attempted acquisition of travel search software firm ITA.

"In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world's largest search engine, Google, has increased and Google has increasingly sought to acquire e-commerce sites in myriad businesses," Kohl said in a news release.

Read more: [politico.com...]
Conduct a "careful review" of the search giant's attempted acquisition of travel search software firm ITA.

Closely examine allegations raised by e-commerce websites that compete with Google that they are being treated unfairly in search ranking

[edited by: tedster at 9:11 pm (utc) on Mar 11, 2011]
[edit reason] extend the quotation [/edit]

Reno

5:31 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Google has purposely and methodically moved from the "white zone" to the "gray zone", and if allowed to continue, they'll soon be in the red zone, at which point they'll be in direct competition to some of the people at this forum. It's just a matter of time ~ as a public corporation their mandate is to increase profits by any (legal) means necessary. I'm sorry to say that those here who still believe Google's intentions are lilly white will have a rude awakening some day.

...................

wheel

5:35 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I think this is premature. I don't think they've hit the tipping point yet, and there's no public outrage.

trinorthlighting

6:02 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This news should be front page on webmaster world, this is some big news. As far as the public outrage goes, you are right, but this senate group is a watchdog on corporations.

Reno

6:59 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Google is doing what many (if not most) big companies do ~ they're pushing the envelope to see where the boundaries are located. Once they find that line, then their lawyers can advise them to step right up to it, and maybe even on it, but not over it. If you are a travel site or a price comparison site or whatever, and get burned, well....... too bad ~ nothing personal ~ it's "just business".

.....................

StupidScript

9:51 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It looks more likely that Microsoft's lobbyists are simply doing a better job than Google's lobbyists.

Can anyone here truly make an argument that Google holds a monopoly on anything? It's not even close. It's free ... there are literally dozens of equally good options a mouse click away ... and people must CHOOSE to use it of their own free will by typing its address into their browser, or using some other un-forced mechanism, like a shortcut, browser setting or link.

Like I said ... money is talking.

tedster

10:00 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



According to CNN's Money section, Google's code change shifts billions from losers to winners [money.cnn.com]. That is a lot of power and seems to legitimize the scrutiny. But I agree that it's mostly a public perception war right now. There is a hidden game being played.

Drum

10:28 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think this is a good thing. I also think the timing is right. If Google is "white-listing" sites now and getting into verticals like travel they need to be more transparent about how they rank sites.

live3life

11:09 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)



Google have been vocally supportive of Democrats and as the leading media company worldwide may need to be impartial in future. Something I have never witnessed an impartial media company. I think this is about more who is controlling the senate than Google.

Swanny007

11:26 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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...they're pushing the envelope to see where the boundaries are located. Once they find that line, then their lawyers can advise them to step right up to it, and maybe even on it, but not over it....

Remember that quote from Eric Schmidt about going up to the creepy line but not crossing it?

incrediBILL

11:38 pm on Mar 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



You mean look closely into Google and ITA vs...

MS's partnering with Kayak?
MS's partnering with Yahoo?

Hmmmm....

If he was serious, he'd be more concerned about things like (for instance) review sites being fleeced out of their results and presented in Google Places.

Google now has the data of these sites above Google's own:
"Reviews by Google users .... Been here? Rate and review"

The handwriting is on the wall for those sites currently being cannibalized and ultimately replaced, it's an unfair playing field, especially on the Android platform where Google is combining places data at an even more rapid pace because of their outstanding MAP and Navigation products, you'll never go to Yelp, UrbanSpood, etc. again, especially if they don't keep promoting them, you'll just see "Reviews by Google users" only.

Google wants to index the web today to be the web tomorrow.

cien

1:02 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The anti-competitive evidence against Google is overwhelming and a search result away. Also, Google's employees and executives have made a ton of incriminating statements.

JAB Creations

1:33 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think like someone pointed out recently in a different thread here (I think) is that there is the good and evil side of Google. The good being the side of Google trying to promote web technologies (e.g. Chrome, codecs without royalties, good search results) and then you have the evil aspect, the creepy bit Swanny007 mentioned, the invasion in to people's privacy, the advertising, etc.

I think this is a good time to mention that the DOJ are investigating Apple and Microsoft over enforcing MPEG'LA's patent trolling for licensing fees. Corporations are not wholly good or evil, it's a mix of the intentions of the people in charge.

- John

outland88

1:37 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't think they're trolling. If they're going to grill some of Google's exec's like Schmidt, Cutts, and those two pasty faced owners I have no problem with it. The underlying theme from Google would be it's either us or Yandex and Baidu.

Sgt_Kickaxe

2:01 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I can hear the anti-Google agenda machine rumbling from here. Google is ALWAYS under scrutiny, announcing it simply puts those agendas in motion. I can't find a single way for Google to play favorites for me so I doubt any report will.

incrediBILL

2:31 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I'll admit freely I'm both a Google fanboy AND a Google detractor.

Why the fan?

AdSense, Android, Google Android Apps, Webmaster Tools, all slam dunk winners IMO

Why the detractor?

Mayday, Panda, and the blatant predatory encroachment on those they index.

I'm not really concerned about those they compete against like MS whining, but when you start competing against those you index, replacing their businesses, that's over the top predatory behavior IMO.

Let me give you a brief history lesson in how MS did a similar move with apps such as DoubleSpace, Outlook and Internet Explorer. They cannibalized a growth industry and destroyed it by incorporating into their OS, much like Google is doing with certain ways they play with indexed information making it more or less their own. Likewise, MS continued this path with MS Money, Office, etc. and decimated much of their 3rd party application vendors by trying to become the single vendor for all mission critical apps.

For the very reason I was right that MS wanted to, and more or less became, the one stop shop for all apps, is why I say Google wants to index the web today to be the web tomorrow.

History is repeating itself but this time around Google is Microsoft and if Microsoft isn't careful, they're Lotus, Novell and Corel, all vulnerable once upon a time to Microsoft.

masterchief

2:47 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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incrediBILL, I couldn't say it better myself...

brotherhood of LAN

2:54 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



10 years ago they were IT sweethearts and opened our minds to information retrieval on the scale of the web with clean results and a clean interface.

Nowadays, bogged down in politics, shareholder expectation and an increasingly scrutinizing media and public.

It's tough at the top.

Well said Incredibill. Google's not perfect but they've certainly made their mark on our lives for the better in a lot of ways.

Hopefully any findings from this will be fair and just.

Reno

3:20 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Thanks for the historical perspective incrediBILL ~ I'd like to think the regulators understand what you've written, but I have my doubts...

hyperkik

3:59 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If I may be cynical... Senate hearings are a dog and pony show. Call me when it's a Justice Department probe.

Or, perhaps, don't even call me then. The last big antitrust case in this sector resulted in what, a wrist slap for Microsoft? Sure, they were scared for a while by the "break up the beast" decision from the trial court, but after that?

Our government lost its taste for major antitrust actions a couple of decades ago, and I would say that the chances of a major company being broken up or suffering a meaningful penalty for monopolistic behavior is vanishingly small.

tedster

4:29 am on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



They cannibalized a growth industry and destroyed it by incorporating into their OS, much like Google is doing with certain ways they play with indexed information making it more or less their own

Bingo! It is the destruction of growth and limitation of future possibilities that is the risk. At the same time, much Internet work does need to be coordinated by a mega-sized entity. (I prefer a corporate entity to a governmental one most of the time.)

This issue represents the growing pains of the human race. Sen. Herb Kohl is doing his duty, I'd say. He's an interesting figure - you can check out his voting record here [ontheissues.org]

chewy

1:12 pm on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If they open it up, imagine who the expert witnesses will be!

Those would be some awesomely heavy fees.

blend27

6:31 pm on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If they open it up, imagine who the expert witnesses will be!


Who?.., Lady Blah Blah?

BillyS

9:18 pm on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Ah yes, good idea. Let's find out if Google is too good at what they do.

This is happening in the good old US of A, right?

I'm sure Google is looking for a location for a data center in Wisconsin as we speak.

scooterdude

10:16 pm on Mar 12, 2011 (gmt 0)



Some times those who need help the most don't realise it, or acknowledge it

J_RaD

4:44 pm on Mar 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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10 years ago they were IT sweethearts and opened our minds to information retrieval on the scale of the web with clean results and a clean interface.


they are far from what they were 10 years ago, and are almost turning into what they were against 10 years ago.

big, bloated, junk.

CainIV

8:24 pm on Mar 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



"This issue represents the growing pains of the human race"

Excellent insight Tedster. I would concur completely.

Technology, geographical, resource limitations and the incessant need for intellectual improvement are stifling growth and creativity and causing a granular effect.

dvduval

10:30 pm on Mar 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Could google have access to insider information about firms that is not available to other investors?

bakedjake

2:48 am on Mar 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I said this in a private forum a couple of weeks ago: There has never been a company in the history of public markets that has yielded so much unchecked power over unrelated companies' revenues as Google does now with 80%+ market share for organic search in the US.

It's not anti-trust because monopolistic control isn't exerted over Google's customers in the case of organic search. It's something we haven't seen before. Unfortunately the real issue is likely to be lost on most politicians.

This issue represents the growing pains of the human race.


Spot on and elegant as always, Ted.

Could google have access to insider information about firms that is not available to other investors?


Yes, but insider information is only illegal when acted upon.

---

One thing we may see come out of this (if legislators are smart) is more transparency about Google's ranking systems so that lawmakers can determine whether or not Google's ever acted unfairly (or illegally). They'll fight that tooth and nail of course with lobbyists and the court system.

JohnRoy

3:30 am on Mar 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



This news should be front page on webmaster world

Here you go. It's on home page ;)
This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39
 

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