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Danny Sullivan Suggests Google Needs Scrutiny

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In deconstructing the letter sent to the Federal Trade Commission by two US Senators, Danny hinted at other Google aspects the Senators should consider about the search giant’s business.

Danny wants to see the Google-DoubleClick deal receive approval, and considers hearings over that topic a “waste of time.”

His Search Engine Land post, an open letter to Orrin Hatch and Herb Kohl, Senators serving on the antitrust subcommittee, suggested alternatives to probing the privacy and competitive aspects of the deal. There are bigger issues with Google to consider.

“Why not investigate whether Google is trampling laws by both being a leading traffic source for some web sites while also being their leading revenue generator?” he asked.

To bolster this position, Danny cited commentary he made in April 2007 about Google’s continued focus on “closing the loop,” a scenario where Google earns money and insights into online activity no matter what people do on the Internet. He cited an example where he sought clarification of how data from Google Checkout might be used internally:

Both Chris Sherman and I asked when briefed if conversion and purchasing data would be restricted to only Google Checkout’s use rather than for Google as a whole to use.

I repeated the question several times, in various ways, to ensure that Google was clear. And it was. If it found this data useful for something, it was going to use it however it wanted, for whatever it wanted. Nothing would be ruled out. It was a dramatic shift in attitude from a company I’d watched for so long.

We won’t trot out the “is Google evil” tropes, because Danny has already done this well. We also picked up on what seemed to be the real tipping point moment in July 2007, when a Google blogger recommended ads for the health industry to counter the negative publicity of Michael Moore’s movie, “Sicko.”

As far as privacy goes, Danny thinks Google and its search competitors have the means to be privacy monsters, if they opted to do so. Though he half-jokingly suggested it’s time to break up Google, it may not be impossible to think of Google occupying space in front of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly once she is finished with Microsoft’s antitrust oversight.

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Danny Sullivan Suggests Google Needs Scrutiny
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