Google Faces Inquiry Into Anti-Competitive Practices

From “France 24 International News”

The European Commission has launched a preliminary inquiry into anti-trust allegations against Google brought by three online companies over how the Internet giant’s search engine operates and the way it sells its digital advertising.

The Commission is acting on separate complaints from three companies – the British price comparison site Foundem, French legal search engine eJustice and Ciao! from Bing, a German online retailer that was bought by Microsoft in 2008. The three have alleged that Google’s search engine artificially demotes the results of competitor sites in its rankings and questioned some of the conditions the company includes in its deals with advertisers.

It is unlikely that Google is only doing this in Europe. “Don’t be evil” is Google’s motto but they seem to have reconsidered especially considering their all out assault on net neutrality.

We have anti-trust laws on the books. Couldn’t we use some of them? Perhaps, the European Union could let us cooperate with their investigation?

We as a society lose a lot when one company clobbers another though anti-competitive practices. We pay more but worse than that a monopoly company can diminish the quality of their product and customer service. In the long term, product development and innovation suffer. So remember, it’s not just the money.

James Pilant

Timeline – Google/Verizon Divide Internet

Google's Customers
October 21st, 2009 Google and Verizon issue joint statement in which they say this – For starters we both think it’s essential that the Internet remains an unrestricted and open platform — where people can access any content (so long as it’s legal), as well as the services and applications of their choice.

January 14th, 2010 Google calls for open internet.

June 22nd, 2010       FCC begins back room negotiations with internet carriers.

August 4th, 2010 New York Times reports Google and Verizon near secret deal to undermine net neutrality.

August 5th, 2010 FCC abandons talks on net neutrality.

August 5th, 2010
Verizon issues following statement – The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect. Translation – we’re not making a deal.

August 5th, 2010 Google denies deal to end net neutrality.

August 9th, 2010 Verizon and Google announce a “proposal.” This is apparently strikingly different from a deal, because a deal would imply profits of billions of dollars. You see, a proposal only “implies” profits of billions of dollars. Got it?

What are the results of this deal? Let me quote Craig Aaron The deal would allow ISPs to effectively split the Internet into “two pipes” — one of which would be reserved for “managed services,” a pay-for-pay platform for content and applications. This is the proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.

What do you think?

James Pilant