Fact: google removed a competitor from the search results.
Caveat: I don't believe this to be illegal (U.S.), I think it's google's search engine and they can do whatever they want with it.
That said, I do believe that google should be required to disclose to the public that the search results they provide may not be entirely unbiased or impartial.
Matt Cutts came out and said this story is silly. google can spin this however they want but the fact still remains that a competitor was removed from the search results, whatever the reason, doesn't matter.
This story is not the first and it won't be the last. You don't have to look hard to find other competitors of a google company/product/investment suppressed in the search results.
google invested in a competitor of ours over 2 years ago. For the last year and a half the ONLY ecom site listed in the top 10 organics was the company google invested in, a dramatic change from the diverse listings (including our site) prior to google's investment.
So here's my question, or poll if you will:
Should google be required to disclose when they have an economic or ownership interest in the search results? For example, when the media does a news story that include information about a company they have an financial interest in they have to disclose that interest to the public, should google have to do the same?