Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 3rd Jul 2011 22:03 UTC, submitted by Jennimc
Google "Search giant Google, facing a broad antitrust probe into its business practices, has hired 12 lobbying firms, a spokeswoman from the company said on Friday. The Federal Trade Commission, which investigates violations of antitrust law, is expected to look into complaints that Google's search results favor the company's other services, among other issues. Google, which runs an estimated 69 percent of Web searches worldwide, can make or break a company depending on its search ranking."
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Comment by maxhrk
by maxhrk on Mon 4th Jul 2011 01:13 UTC
maxhrk
Member since:
2005-07-24

wow, google decide to flex their muscle WAAAAAAyyyyy too hard. ;)

Reply Score: 0

ozonehole
Member since:
2006-01-07

At last, Google has figured out how government in the USA really works. Pay for play. The US Congress is so corrupt that legislators might as well post their selling price on eBay.

The "case" against Google is that Apple and Microsoft have bought enough legislators so that anti-trust laws are being applied against Google, rather than Apple and Microsoft. This is what they mean by "innovation."

Way back in college days, my political science professor told us that a campaign contribution is the best investment a company can make. Now, belatedly, Google realizes this. They understand that they need to pay protection money, else they'll be snuffed out.

Welcome to the real world, Google. America has the best government that money can buy.

Edited 2011-07-04 01:31 UTC

Reply Score: 9

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

At last, Google has figured out how government in the USA really works. Pay for play. The US Congress is so corrupt that legislators might as well post their selling price on eBay. The "case" against Google is that Apple and Microsoft have bought enough legislators so that anti-trust laws are being applied against Google, rather than Apple and Microsoft. This is what they mean by "innovation." Way back in college days, my political science professor told us that a campaign contribution is the best investment a company can make. Now, belatedly, Google realizes this. They understand that they need to pay protection money, else they'll be snuffed out. Welcome to the real world, Google. America has the best government that money can buy.


What I am interested to see is how even the corrupt American system can get an anti-trust decision to go against Google "which runs an estimated 69 percent of Web searches worldwide".

69% is a monopoly now? Google search is installed as an irremoveable part of the OS? People cannot change search engines any more? To use Google search requires that you use only Google IT products and nothing else? Other search engines have been forced out of the market?

When did all this happen?

Edited 2011-07-04 07:15 UTC

Reply Score: 9

jakesdad Member since:
2005-12-28

My understanding is it is not the search that is the issue. It is peoples/companies perceived ranking in the searches that they say Google is manipulating due to "Market Dominance" and placing Google products higher in the ranking.

Personally I call shenanigans, but to each their own.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

My understanding is it is not the search that is the issue. It is peoples/companies perceived ranking in the searches that they say Google is manipulating due to "Market Dominance" and placing Google products higher in the ranking.

Personally I call shenanigans, but to each their own.


Well, a good investigation to keep Google on their toes can't hurt, right?

Microsoft and Apple should follow, though. Just to keep 'm in check.

Reply Score: 1

ourcomputerbloke Member since:
2011-05-12

placing Google products higher in the ranking


It's not just Google's products, it's sites that promote Google's income generating products like Google Ads too.

I thought I'd bookmarked a blog article from a company that had all but proved this, but I can't find the link. If my memory serves me correctly the site was ezdownloadsolutions.com, and it seems that's now parked so they've probably gone out of business.

Anyway, from memory, after struggling for a couple of years to get any decent page rankings the company duplicated their site on a completely different domain name, one that wasn't as good for their particular business, and simply adding Google Ads to the site improved it's page rankings by more than 20% over their original site. Obviously it was only their word, but I don't see they'd have had any reason to lie about it.

Microsoft and Apple should follow, though. Just to keep 'm in check.


Huh? Microsoft have Bing so even though it has a massive 10% of the search market I can sort of see where you're coming from, but Apple? How has this got anything to do with them? Don't comments like this just fuel the fire about your purported bias?

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Mrhasbean, not this bias shit again. You know why you got banned on your other account, right? I will not tolerate that nonsense, so be warned.

Companies the size of Apple, Microsoft, and Google need to be kept under tight oversight, especially considering the amount of personal information they hold (forgot about Sony already?). How is me saying that a sign of any bias? Because I include Apple in that list?

Reply Score: 1

bouhko Member since:
2010-06-24

There could be a lot of reasons for why the new site was higher ranked than the old one. The first one that come to mind is that the old site was of bad quality and that therefore people never clicked on search results linking to this site and that it had its ranking decreased because of that when compared to the new one.

Also, I'm curious to know how they managed to replicate ALL the links pointing to the old site to point to the new site (Google's PageRank uses the links in ranking). This seems just impossible to me, because you don't have control on other sites linking to you.

Could also happen that Google has adjusted its algorithm just in the middle of their experiment (they do that very often - hundred of times per year if you read their blog post).

So I really doubt such a simple experiment proves anything.

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

My understanding is it is not the search that is the issue. It is peoples/companies perceived ranking in the searches that they say Google is manipulating due to "Market Dominance" and placing Google products higher in the ranking. Personally I call shenanigans, but to each their own.


Not that I think Google does anything other than provide one million Linux servers and a good search algorithm ... but anyway the next question becomes: "It is illegal now for a non-monopoly to promote its own products and services?"

I can't see where any anti-trust investigation into Google can get past these blaringly obvious observations.

As big as it is, Google search is simply not a monopoly, and Google does not deprive people of choice.

Reply Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

lemur2,

"As big as it is, Google search is simply not a monopoly, and Google does not deprive people of choice."


That really depends on your definition of a monopoly, which can vary legally from country to country. In the US google is generally understood to be a monopoly because it controls the majority of the market.

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Sherman+Anti-Trust+Ac...

"A market share greater than 75 percent indicates monopoly power, a share less than 50 percent does not, and shares between 50 and 75 percent are inconclusive in and of themselves."

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_...

"Google Ups Share of Search To 72%; Yahoo, MSN and Ask Continue To Tank"


Google knows that they are not exempt from anti-trust laws, so it makes sense for them to lobby the government to get more lenient treatment.

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

lemur2, "As big as it is, Google search is simply not a monopoly, and Google does not deprive people of choice." That really depends on your definition of a monopoly, which can vary legally from country to country. In the US google is generally understood to be a monopoly because it controls the majority of the market. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Sherman+Anti-Trust+Ac... "A market share greater than 75 percent indicates monopoly power, a share less than 50 percent does not, and shares between 50 and 75 percent are inconclusive in and of themselves." http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&... "Google Ups Share of Search To 72%; Yahoo, MSN and Ask Continue To Tank" Google knows that they are not exempt from anti-trust laws, so it makes sense for them to lobby the government to get more lenient treatment.


You raise a reasonable-sounding point.

However, quoted from the very same page you link:
The prevailing economic theory supporting antitrust laws in the United States is that the public is best served by free competition in trade and industry. When businesses fairly compete for the consumer's dollar, the quality of products and services increases while the prices decrease. However, many businesses would rather dictate the price, quantity, and quality of the goods that they produce, without having to compete for consumers. Some businesses have tried to eliminate competition through illegal means, such as fixing prices and assigning exclusive territories to different competitors within an industry. Antitrust laws seek to eliminate such illegal behavior and promote free and fair marketplace competition.

Until the late 1800s the federal government encouraged the growth of big business. By the end of the century, however, the emergence of powerful trusts began to threaten the U.S. business climate. Trusts were corporate holding companies that, by 1888, had consolidated a very large share of U.S. manufacturing and mining industries into nationwide monopolies. The trusts found that through consolidation they could charge Monopoly prices and thus make excessive profits and large financial gains. Access to greater political power at state and national levels led to further economic benefits for the trusts, such as tariffs or discriminatory railroad rates or rebates. The most notorious of the trusts were the Sugar Trust, the Whisky Trust, the Cordage Trust, the Beef Trust, the Tobacco Trust, John D. Rockefeller's Oil Trust (Standard Oil of New Jersey), and J. P. Morgan's Steel Trust (U.S. Steel Corporation).

Consumers, workers, farmers, and other suppliers were directly hurt monetarily as a result of the monopolizations. Even more important, perhaps, was that the trusts fanned into renewed flame a traditional U.S. fear and hatred of unchecked power, whether political or economic, and particularly of monopolies that ended or threatened equal opportunity for all businesses. The public demanded legislative action, which prompted Congress, in 1890, to pass the Sherman Act. The act was followed by several other antitrust acts, including the Clayton Act of 1914 (15 U.S.C.A. §§ 12 et seq.), the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 (15 U.S.C.A. §§ 41 et seq.), and the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936 (15 U.S.C.A. §§ 13a, 13b, 21a). All of these acts attempt to prohibit anticompetitive practices and prevent unreasonable concentrations of economic power that stifle or weaken competition.

The Sherman Act made agreements "in restraint of trade" illegal. It also made it a crime to "monopolize, or attempt to monopolize … any part of the trade or commerce." The purpose of the act was to maintain competition in business.


My bold.

Whoever is going to try to prosecute Google for anti-trust behaviour is going to have to show how Google is engaging in "illegal behavior" such that it is preventing "free and fair marketplace competition".

Given that Google has only 69% of the search market, and that consumers are charged nothing for the search services offered, and also that consumers can easily change their search provider at the drop of a hat, and are actively encouraged to do so by the most widely used OS and browser, this is going to be verrrrrrrry tough to show.

Let alone getting past the next huge hurdle trying to show that Google does indeed bias its search results.

Reply Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Frankly you're missing the point.
You stated they were not a monopoly, they are.

Google may not be what's called a "natural monopoly" (like suppliers of electricity and water), but then neither was microsoft.

As you quoted, antitrust laws exist to promote competition, the government's responsibility here is to determine if they are exploiting their monopoly power to impede the competition.

Edited 2011-07-05 06:43 UTC

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Frankly you're missing the point.
You stated they were not a monopoly, they are.

Google may not be what's called a "natural monopoly" (like suppliers of electricity and water), but then neither was microsoft.

As you quoted, antitrust laws exist to promote competition, the government's responsibility here is to determine if they are exploiting their monopoly power to impede the competition.


... and in order to do that, they must build a case to prove that Google is excluding the competition using their monopoly power. You are missing the point if you cannot see that proving this is going to be extremely difficult when consumers can choose to use either Google search or a competitor's search at the drop of a hat. Given this obvious fact, how is the opposition impeded in any way by any act of Google's?

Based only on their market share, Google is not unequivocally a monopoly anyway. It is in the "maybe" band.

Given that there is absolutely no barrier to competing products, Google is most definitely not in any position to wield "monopoly power" in search.

http://duckduckgo.com/about.html

Given that consumers have good alternatives readily available, only way that Google can maintain it's share in search is to provide consumers with a good search engine.

There is no problem with competition in the search engine market.

Edited 2011-07-05 09:54 UTC

Reply Score: 2

ronaldst Member since:
2005-06-29

Ain't central planning great? Best way to rig the free market. ;)

Reply Score: 2

pantheraleo Member since:
2007-03-07

The "case" against Google is that Apple and Microsoft have bought enough legislators so that anti-trust laws are being applied against Google, rather than Apple and Microsoft. This is what they mean by "innovation."



Uh... Neither Microsoft or Apple have anything to do with the case against Google. But yeah, leave it to Google fanboys to think that this is some kind of conspiracy against Google. Google fanboys are as bad as Apple fanboys when it comes to thinking their beloved company can do no wrong, and can't possibly be violating any laws or creating an unfair playing field.

Reply Score: 2

Part of the do no harm policy I guess.
by jefro on Mon 4th Jul 2011 17:03 UTC
jefro
Member since:
2007-04-13

Well, if you can't beat them, bribe them.

GE got away with and and many others. Cept orphans and widows.

Reply Score: 2