Federal regulators escalate antitrust investigation of Google
9:37 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)
Federal regulators escalated their antitrust investigation of Google on Thursday by hiring a prominent litigator, sending a strong signal that they are prepared to take the Internet giant to court.
The Federal Trade Commission is examining Google’s immensely powerful and lucrative search technology, which directs users to hundreds of millions of online and offline destinations every day. The case has the potential to be the biggest showdown between regulators and Silicon Valley since the government took on Microsoft 14 years ago.
Then as now, the core question is whether power was abused. The agency’s inquiry has focused on whether Google has manipulated its search results, making it less likely that competing companies or products appear at the top of a results page.
Google has manipulated its search results, making it less likely that competing companies or products appear at the top of a results page.
Do they have more responsibility when being popular? Is there any law against manipulating the results? Google may claim that the search results is their own property and they can provide whatever they feel like.
10:32 am on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)
Google may claim that the search results is their own property and they can provide whatever they feel like.
I must admit that this has always puzzled me too. I am not G's greatest fan but I have always wondered why they are not allowed to do what they want with their own results?
Could it not be argued that each tweak of the algorithm could be classed as manipulating the results?
No monopoly can be allowed to continue un-regulated and closely scrutinized when it impinges on the well being of society, people's livelihoods, their health, education, etc..
If there were reasonable choice and competition in such an important market then there would be little to argue about. This is not however the case.
It is no different than when every PC got shipped with Windows and Internet Explorer. Now we see a good spread of browsers being used. We also see a good spread of operating systems being used on different devices. No company can price manipulate and the consumer has real choice.
3:10 pm on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)
> Is there any law against manipulating the results?
Google spent $5.03 million on lobbying from January through March of this year, a record for the Internet giant, and a 240 percent increase from the $1.48 million it spent on lobbyists in the same quarter a year ago
9:40 pm on Apr 27, 2012 (gmt 0)
The momentum of sentiment against Google is based upon the fact that most information based business' would likely have "Google" registered highly as a business threat in it's business plans.
The combined lobby group associated with that globally would outweigh Google.
But given the nature of a search engine, I wonder what the alternative is. Unlike Microsoft, this is much more complex to get one's heads around.
12:26 pm on Apr 28, 2012 (gmt 0)
One might argue that any act by a person to point back links at a competitors web site with the intention to disrupt their business is actually a criminal offence. There are some thoughts from a criminal lawyer that I have just spoken to that Google may have triggered that interpretation of the law. The consequence could be that they must attend court under oath if back links are part of a criminal proceeding - especially so if there is a defendant at risk of criminal as opposed to civil penalties. In some European courts, Google may not have the right to refuse giving evidence.
I think Google's days as we know it are numbered. Monopolies are near monopolies are not good for society. They should simply become a paid listings directory based on adsense. I believe this is where they are going already.