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Is Google Hurting Free Market Competition?

Senators Call For FTC Antitrust Probe of Google, FairSearch responds

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Is Google Hurting Free Market Competition?
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Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee have put together a letter calling for an FTC investigation of Google, with an emphasis on the company’s search results.

Do you think Google is anticompetitive? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s the letter in its entirety:

Google FTC Letter 12 19 11

Note that the letter refers to Bing as “a partnership of Microsoft and Yahoo”. And that this is the only competition Google has. I’m not sure this is an accurate portrayal of the search industry. Bing is not a partnership of Microsoft and Yahoo. It’s Microsoft’s search engine. They are separate. Sure, they do have a partnership, and Bing powers the back-end of Yahoo, but they are still two different search engines. Granted, they are sharing an advertising platform now. Furthermore, there are other search engines out there, though their market share isn’t nearly as great.

Newer kinds of search engines have popped up in recent memory. Blekko and DuckDuckGo spring immediately to mind. Just because people aren’t using them as much as Google, doesn’t mean they aren’t free to compete. They aren’t being used nearly as much as Bing either. Bing has proven that marketing a search engine and making strategic partnerships can go a long way in gaining market share in the search industry.

The reality of the Internet and the search industry is much broader than competition among search engines. The fact is that people are obtaining information in a lot more ways now. They’re relying on search less for some of that. They’re turning to social media and different apps. A lot of iPhone users may be turning to Siri now. That’s just an example. Smartphones and tablets have opened up the world to a whole new world of apps for consuming information online. That itself could be just as big of an obstacle for Bing as anything.

For that matter, it could be a benefit for Bing if they play their cards right. If people have to rely on the traditional search engine less for some types of information consumption, perhaps there are opportunities for Microsoft to innovate more in the app world. I do believe the direction they’re going with Xbox and Kinect can have some pretty big ramifications. I wonder what a Bing-infused Xbox mobile device could accomplish for their share of the search market. Getting Xbox Live features on mobile devices is a start, but what about something more like what Sony is doing with the Playstation Vita, only Xbox style, taking advantage of the new Xbox platform.

A representative for the FairSearch Coalition sent us these comments on the letter from Rick Rule, head of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division from 1985-1989, a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, and outside counsel to Microsoft:

Senator Lee is right to call for careful scrutiny of Google, given the numerous allegations of antitrust violations by the company. The antitrust laws of this country prohibit companies like Google that dominate important parts of our economy from using their market power to destroy competition and to deny consumers of choice. Decisions from conservative courts make clear that the antitrust laws apply just as much to the new economy as to the old. If a company like Google is allowed to flout the rule of law, then free-market competition will suffer.

Senator Lee’s letter to the FTC shows that the Senator understands that promoting sound antitrust law enforcement is an important bulwark against the inevitable calls for regulation. Senator Lee’s letter is in line with the views of conservative judges and free-market heroes, like Judge Bork and Judge Posner.

I too am a conservative who believes in the supremacy of free markets. I worked for President Reagan as the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. We understood then, as Senator Lee understands today, that in order for free-market competition to work, consumers and producers must be able to respond to the market’s “invisible hand” free from artificial restraints imposed by government, by cartels, or by monopolists like Google. The troubling allegations that Google uses its market power to impose such restraints are too numerous to ignore. As Senator Lee’s letter demonstrates, conservative principles demand that Google be held accountable to the rule of law.

They also sent us these comments from Mark Corallo, former Press Secretary and then Public Affairs Director for the U.S. Department of Justice under Attorney General John Ashcroft (2002-2005). He’s currently a spokesman for FairSearch:

Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz requesting that the FTC conduct an investigation into Google’s business practices. They should be applauded. The rule of law is non-partisan. And that is all they are requesting of the FTC – make sure that Google is following the law.

Considering the grilling they gave Google CEO Eric Schmidt at Senate hearing back in September, the news is not that these two Senators have concerns relating to Google’s leveraging its market dominance in anti-competitive and potentially illegal ways. The news is that the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee put it in writing and asked for action. When two senators not only agree on an issue but are willing to do something about it, the seismic tremors can be felt from the halls of the FTC right on up to Google’s executive suites. And that’s nothing compared to the shockwave that Google’s multimillion dollar lobbying team is feeling from all sides – after all, they’re paid to cut off these types of legitimate inquiries.

Citing testimony from their September 21 hearing, Senator Kohl and Senator Lee rightly raised several issues of concern that merit investigation. Among those concerns are:

Erik Schmidt’s admission that Google has a dominant position in the search market: “I would agree, Senator, we’re in that area”;

The dramatic changes in Google’s business model from delivering search results based on popularity to steering users to its ever increasing Google-owned Internet properties;

The suppression of natural search results in favor of Google links; and

The damage to competition and innovation that is the lifeblood of the internet economy and inevitably the American economy.

The Senators ended the letter rging the FTC to take a closer look:

“We believe these allegations rgarding Google’s search engine practices raise important competition issues. W are committed to ensuring that consumers benefit from robust competition in oline search and that the Internet remains the source of much free-market
innovation. We therefore urge the FTC to investigate the issues raised at our sbcommittee hearing to determine whether Google’s actions violate antitrust law or substantially harm consumers or competition in this vital industry.”

My translation for the layman: “How can we trust Google?

FairSearch’s official statement is as follows:

FairSearch.org applauds Senators Kohl and Lee for urging the Federal Trade Commission to conduct “a thorough investigation” of allegations that Google’s business practices leverage the company’s monopoly power in ways that are contrary to antitrust law. This bipartisan letter validates the many concerns held by the members of FairSearch.org and thousands of other companies about the impact Google’s anticompetitive behavior has on innovation and consumer choice. We agree with the Senate Antitrust Subcommitee leadership’s conclusion that, given the inconsistent testimony of Eric Schmidt and the concerns raised by witnesses like Yelp and Nextag, Google can no longer simply be trusted to not abuse its dominant position in online search. We continue to encourage the FTC, along with state Attorneys General and the European Commission, to respond to the Senators’ call to investigate, as antitrust scrutiny is vital to ensuring consumers reap the benefits of robust competition and innovation in online search.

In October, FairSearch released a 44-page paper about Google’s “anticompetitive conduct”.

In June, Google put out a blog post discussing five principles that “will stand up” to scrutiny related to competition:

1. Do what’s best for the user. We make hundreds of changes to our algorithms every year to improve your search experience. Not every website can come out at the top of the page, or even appear on the first page of our search results.

2. Provide the most relevant answers as quickly as possible. Today, when you type “weather in Chicago” or “how many feet in a mile” into our search box, you get the answers directly—often before you hit “enter”. And we’re always trying to figure out new ways to answer even more complicated questions just as clearly and quickly. Advertisements offer useful information, too, which is why we also work hard to ensure that our ads are relevant to you.

3. Label advertisements clearly. Google always distinguishes advertisements from our organic search results. As we experiment with new ad formats and new types of content, we will continue to be transparent about what is an ad and what isn’t.

4. Be transparent. We share more information about how our rankings work than any other search engine, through our Webmaster Central site, blog, diagnostic tools,support forum, and YouTube. We also give advertisers detailed information about the ad auction and tips to improve their ad quality scores. We’ve recently introduced even more transparency tools, announcing a major change to our algorithm, providing morenotice when a website is demoted due to spam violations, and giving advertisers new information about ads that break our rules.

5. Loyalty, not lock-in. We firmly believe you control your data, so we have a team of engineers whose only goal is to help you take your information with you. We want you to stay with us because we’re innovating and making our products better—not because you’re locked in.

And of course, Google always like to play the “competition is only a click away” card.

That’s a valid point though, is it not? Tell us what you think.

Related reading:

Google Panda Update: Antitrust Connections Being Tossed Around

Google Could Face Massive Fine Over Antitrust Complaint in Europe

Google Antitrust Complaint Filed With FTC

FairSearch Releases 44-Page Paper About Google’s “Anticompetitive Conduct”

Google: Here’s Who Doesn’t Think We’re Anticompetitive

FairSearch Blasts Google with “Searchville” Site

Google to FTC: These 5 Principles Will Stand Up To Your Scrutiny

Is Google Hurting Free Market Competition?
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  • http://airtravelcenter.com/ Steven Brungard

    Yes. Google is anti-competition. Google controls web traffic and directs it to self benefit.

    Google also punishes competing web sites by using a human inserted penalty placed into their search algorithm that demotes the competing site and pushes the site downward in SERP.

    Google has even gone so far as to widely publish a request to report sites that sell paid links. Google protects this vigorously because paid links are its main revenue source. Google will claim to be protecting search result relevance. That claim is false because Google can accomplish relevance by methods that are better than trolling for web sites that sell paid links and punishing them. But those methods would forego controlling competition.

    Google has also entered the travel vertical by purchasing a company at the very center of it. ITA Software powers the search and display of fares and rates. It is widely subscribed to by many brand name travel vendors and online travel agencies. Now Google controls it and much of the online travel industry.

    Google not only stifles competition, it works to control every vertical it can. Google does not compete. Google controls.

    • Jerry

      I think Google and Yahoo are both restricting free marketing and ratings.

    • syntax

      You seem to forget that Google is a BUSINESS, not a government organization or charity. Taking every opportunity to benefit your company’s bottom line is just smart business, nothing more.

      • Michael

        I would argue that you have forgotten anti-trust lost to protect industries from monopolization.

        • syntax

          No, I just define a monopoly as there being no other choice. My power company is a monopoly – I do not have any other choice for electric service. I’d rather the government do something about that than worry about Google, since there ARE plenty of other search engines to chose from.

  • syntax

    Isn’t this the point of a free market? Frankly I’m sick of the whining whenever one company does something better than everyone else (eg AT&T, Microsoft, etc) and happens to garner the lion’s share of their market. Google got to where they are because they create innovative and useful products that people want. They solidified their presence through clever buyouts and mergers. Isn’t that what the point of business is? Why should we start pissing our pants every time some company happens to do what every business wants to do, and succeeds at it?

    Anti-competitive? Nah. Anti-competitive is when you take a baseball bat and go break the knees of your competitor. Simply doing it better and smarter is not anti-competitive, it’s just good business. Shouldn’t be punished for being clever.

    • Steve

      You must be paid by Google to say such gibberish.. The breaking the knees comment you made was funny, because that is exactly what Google does.. They’re trying to dominate the internet in every single sector they can (from search, local business/yellow pages, reviews, their version of groupon, Google shopping, and the list is endless). WIth the new Google Panda upates, they’re especially penalizing sites that also desire to profit off the internet. Huge double standard!

      • syntax

        I’m not paid by Google, I’m just not a communist. I don’t see anything wrong with a company trying to expand its domain into as many verticals as it can profit from. The Japanese have been doing this for ages – look at companies like Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. Companies only become a monopoly if the consumer lets them. If you don’t like it, don’t use their products. It’s just like when people complained about Microsoft bundling IE with Windows – it’s THEIR product, they should have a right. Don’t like it? Don’t use it!

        And seriously? Panda? What are you stuck in January or something? They’ve had about 500 algorithm updates since then. But to rebuke your comment, the point of Panda was not to punish sites that were trying to profit off the Internet, it was to penalize garbage content. I don’t see how anyone accept for people that run link farms or site scrapers could see it as a bad thing. Or did you enjoy searching for stuff and having to click through a bunch of crap sites to find what you were looking for?

        • Concerned Netizen

          Tell me a certain high traffic website in the past that are not affected by Panda in any of its minor/major updates. As far as i am concerned it affected all sites in the Internet particularly those who worked to earn money through advertisements and selling products.

          Its disturbing because a lot of sites got lost traffic from this yet Google continues to dominate the market. Unfair practices isn’t it?

  • Todd

    I going to quote Steven, haven’t seen it this well said ever:

    “Google not only stifles competition, it works to control every vertical it can. Google does not compete. Google controls.”

    Welcome to Corporate Capitalism.

    • tom

      Bah.

  • http://www.eloquent-marketing.com/ Eloquent Marketing

    Good provides us with a ridiculous amount of resources and the BEST search results. Have you searched Bing? Or ANYTHING else? The results are never as relevant. As I speak right now – this webpage is ridden with Google Ads – which just so happen to advertise a software that I LOVE. The only thing that I sincerely believe that they manipulate is their AdWords tool, and that’s their product offering, so why not?

    If Google went away – who would fund all of the software companies that are making HUGE strides to educate properly in the web marketing industry?

    • syntax

      I agree… and I bet most of the people complaining here have a Gmail account and use other Google services.

  • tom

    Isn’t that a hoot. The low-lifes in congress calling the kettle black. Congress has done more to damage the free market than any company could ever do.

  • Scott M

    This is a total farce! Everyone who uses the Internet HAS a choice which search provider they use. I choose to use Google simply because it is the best all round search engine out there – so what now? We penalize someone for being the best? The government should keep their very dirty hands out of private business – they should not cast the first stone when THEY are one of the dirtiest entities on the planet!

  • http://www.darrenleno.com Darren L

    I can both ways on this.
    I think Google’s quality score pricing is fair. In many markets (long tail) makes it easier for smaller players to compete on quality, rather than just having big players come along and monopolize traffic by paying big bucks. It’s not a true eBay style auction, and I think that has many benefits to those who put in the time.

    However, I struggle with all of the rules that Google forces on me. I run my business differently because of Google. Google acts as though it knows my business better than I do, but it does not. I have walked away from entering new markets because of the cost and length of time it takes for Google to recognize me.

    Frankly I get MUCH better CPA on Bing ($3.50 compared to $50 on certain products), but the lower traffic means I can’t make a living off of Bing alone. I wish I could.

    We have all given Google way too much power.

  • Steve

    You must be paid by Google to say such gibberish.. The breaking the knees comment that was made was kind of funny, because that is exactly what Google does.. They’re trying to dominate the internet in every single sector they can (from search, social networking/Google Plous, local business/yellow pages, reviews, their version of groupon, Google shopping, and the list is endless). WIth the new Google Panda upates, they’re especially penalizing sites that also desire to profit off the internet. Huge double standard!

  • http://www.adovationz.co.nz/catalogww.htm Digby Geen

    Yes I think Google has become anti-competitive and is no longer just a search company.

    When they started Google stated their goal was to provide the best search results based on useful sites. And to do no evil

    Now they seem to be angling towards providing the best shopping results.

    And also the fact that they have things such as Google checkout to me are incompatible with a search engine.

    They need to eb split up into a search company and the rest.

    Digby

  • Ryan

    This is total BS…. should Google really be investigated for pushing it’s own products??? Its a no brainer and common sense practice for a business trying to get return on investment for a FREE product/service. Guess what, Yahoo and Bing do the same thing – do a yahoo search for webmaster tools and you see their products NOT Google…same thing no? Is Facebook going to promote Google Adwords….NO! They’re pushing their own ads, for obvious reasons. Im all about keeping a level playing field but Gov’t regulation is not the answer…The FTC has better things to do with their time. Dont like what Google does… go somewhere else, its free will.

  • http://www.TheCarriageHouseInnBandB.com Mike Bedsworth

    Google wasn’t always the 800 pound garilla and now that they are, the government is trying to “protect” the consumer. You would think they learned their lession 30 years ago when they broke up Ma Bell. What is the incentive for business to grow and become successful if at the end of their path Uncle Sam stands in their way and says you have become too big (successful). Let the market decide if Google is too big. The last time I checked, this is a free market and anyone is free to build a better mouse trap.

  • http://designme.co.za Anton Lasich

    Google started out with no freakin advertising! It was part of the dream that we computer people had:- computers causing social revolution by allowing access to information at no cost to the individual the cost being born by subsidies and governments. What has happened? Computers in particular the PC have allowed greedy little shmuckeroos the ability to screw everyone! Instead of doing the right thing, they chose to exploit the weaknesses of the users and their naievty. Look at what Windose did and continues to do! Conspiring against Digital Research and DR-DOS for one. Google long ago was the champion of freedom and then the fairytale ended and we landed up with advertising…okish at first and then totally dominant.

    Now Google is part of the crap and abuse of everyone. They stole my money! I had adsense on my websites was owed about $80 a lot in our currency, used traffic exchanges (cos I actually find them entertaining and informative) and they suspended my account taking my money which they held onto for months! Can you imagine how much money they are holding onto! Paying out on $100 I estimate that they are holding at least a billion dollars of people’s money in this way and they don’t pay interest.

    The shumkeroos at google triumph!

    Secondly the invasion of privacy with google maps sucks. I urge everyone to make sure they moon/flash the google vans…another symptom of endless shmucks. Just like the other shmuck system – facebook which I know is processing all your input.

    Shmucks rule but not for long.

    Don’t forget they devised software for governments and their big business partners to analyse in real time purchases made by citizens! Can you imagine what an unfair advantage this gives them.

    But, google like so many other arsehole business capitalist pigs out there forget that their mode of business is unsustainable…they never learn and have been doing it ever since when…the collapse of the Roman Empire, the current EuroZone crisis and so on all a result of the corruption of governments by fat capitalist pigs and inverted capitalists (commies) …look at your country! Enron was dissolved but look at how the Democrats saved big business! Did they? NO!

    So please, anyone who thinks google is not sinister and underhanded – WAKE ME WHEN ITS OVER!

    My five cents
    Anton

    • syntax

      Lol you’re crazy. In case you weren’t aware, things like bandwidth, servers, power, infrastructure and the personnel to run them are not free. Google uses advertising to pay for these things and keep the service to the end user free. When they started, it was just a college project… easy to be idealistic at that stage and say “I’m going to give this to the world for free and for the benefit of mankind”. Then you get a few million people using it and that bill from the data center starts getting harder and harder to pay out of pocket.

      Also they didn’t “steal” your money, you violated their terms of service. But you’re probably one of those assholes that never reads the terms and conditions and then runs around crying foul play after you’ve been penalized for violating them.

      • Td

        I bet they did not refund the advertisers for the violated ads that showed on the banned account. So the did steal his money and the advertisers money too. Google is not a search engine they are a “suggestion” engine they want us to see and use what they think is better and makes them more money. Youtube is loaded w/ copyrighted materials and videos of sports and music vids that are not allowed to be shown but do they get into trouble …no bc no one has the $$ to fight them.

  • http://www.onewavedesigns.com/ Paul Coffman – Hawaii Web Designer

    I have to be 50/50 on this. I do believe Google is getting greedier. In our analytics they now have the “Not Provided” for search terms, saying it’s to protect privacy, YET they will provide the info if it’s through Adwords, their paid advertising. And their use of Google+ to try and push down facebook and increase their revenue is a bit nasty, but I’m so sick of Facebook it’s not funny. If anything needs to be knocked down it’s Facebook.
    On the other side, some of the new changes this year needed to be done. To many sites were passing page rank and manipulating the results to get on top of better businesses. Every other person claimed to be a “SEO Expert” and hopefully some of the changes will cut down on all of the spam comments on blogs, and such. If you manage dozens of sites for companies, the time it takes to maintain the spam on them is too much.
    All in all, I’m not overly enthused about Google’s moves this year. Most of their employees share this thought from what I understand.

  • http://www.maps.com rob

    Absolutely! Google drives traffic preferentially to those who pay. Or those who are loyal. The outranking of established sites by recently created Google+ pages is the most obvious example of this. Yes we have always been able to pay to advertise and take the higher ground on our competition, but with such domination of the search engine ‘media’ the opportunity for genuine competition outside of 3 or 4 preferred vendors is almost non-existent.

    • syntax

      Nah, this is just nonsense. I’ve been able to achieve high rankings organically without spending any money. Just have to know what you’re doing.

      • http://www.maps.com rob

        But you can’t get yourself above the paid searches organically can you? Plus, with less effort, there are opportunities for those with certain pro Google features to also climb close to or above you. You can do EVERYTHING that Google tells yo to do today, and with a few keystrokes can be back at the bottom of the heap tomorrow.

        I, for one, believe that right now the intentions are mostly honorable. Some of the sites that were hurt the most by Panda were not even true content sites, and were fouling up search results.

        But I am cognizant of the fact that if a huge army was amassed on my doorstep in the name of peacekeeping, unchecked it could become an uncontrolled aggressor overnight.

  • Drape

    I used to get tons of traffic from froogle and Google Base in its early stages. My products were very relevant to the search keywords and I’ve always had the lowest prices. Sometime later Google Product search displays results from big companies at the top, my products have more relevant name and description but I don’t get nowhere near top results anymore.

    • syntax

      It’s because those bigger companies have more relevance than you, particularly in the form of link juice. This isn’t rocket science folks.

  • http://www.maps.com rob

    Google’s ‘Suggested Searches’ is another example of anti-competitive practise.

    All of this said, I can’t blame Google for their business model, and as a user I find it rewarding and useful. It has grown mostly organically, meaning that by offering a great service it has wiped out most of the competition. This is survival of the fittest. It does concern me that there is no real regulation of the SEO industry but this is a wider problem and in no way restricted to Google.

    However, if a single broadcaster was able to capture 95% of the TV market I am certain that one group or another would put serious pressure on the government to reduce that power before it became a security threat.

    • syntax

      If a TV station had 95% of the market, one would guess that the only reason would be they had the best programming, right?

      Guess who the first group to cry “monopoly” would be? The 5% who didn’t have their shit together. It’s just like SCO going around suing everyone for patent infringement because their product sucks and they need the money, and they can’t keep up with anyone else on real products/services.

  • Joe

    You guys always get it all wrong. The problem is not whether Google is so big that other search engines can’t compete with them. The problem is Google using his dominance to rearrange search results to their benefit killing thousands of competitors (not only search engines), e-commerce sites.

    Yes, search needs to be regulated like a public utility. Google is abusive. They deindexed my site after 12 years of enjoying perfectly good rankings. It was a huge product site so I was their competitor. I can’t do anything about it. They don’t respond. The abuse and silly algo. changes needs to stop. The government needs to regulate Google and search heavily.

    • syntax

      Government regulated search?! NO F’ING THANKS!!

      Maybe you’re site dropped because you didn’t keep up with the times. My company experienced the same thing, but through a little research and elbow grease we climbed back up to the top. It’s just called effort.

      You could always move to China, they have government regulated search there.

  • http://www.plebble.com James

    Most of the commenters I feel are missing the point. The question is not whether it’s right for Google to dominate the *search* market – most would say they have earned that and fair play to them. The question is whether it’s right for Google to use their undoubted dominance of the search market to get an advantage in other markets – like local directory, social networking, video sharing, etc.

    By favouring their results in these markets, at the expense of their competition, I would say (and have long been of this view) that Google are unfairly taking advantage of their dominance in search.

    • syntax

      Maybe… but isn’t that what competition is all about? If you were an awesome swimmer that totally dominated the sport and then decided to get into track and ended up being awesome at that too, would that be unfair? Would there be a bunch of whiny communists going “Hey, we need government regulation on this guy, he can’t be good at TWO sports! That’s unfair to the losers who aren’t as good!”

    • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

      I think you get it more than these schmucks do. A search engine is supposed to be unbiased, and there has been clear evidence of Google using it’s search dominance to steer the visitor to a Google site not because the page is actually more relevant, but simply because it shows the slightest bit of relevancy and it’s a Google site.

  • James Bonnar

    I am extremely disappointed that two members of our government would target a great American company such as Google. This is typical behavior exhibited by our government. Google is number one because they are the best at what they do (by far) and they employ thousands of creative people and do many creative things. This stands in stark contrast to the U.S. Congress, largely staffed by wannabe creative people, but regrettably they went to law school and, therefore, have no actual skills. Politicians love to cause problems for people, then step in later and offer themselves as having “the solution”. What a pathetic way to do business. These two politicians are just angry that Google search engine effectively finds and delivers lots of useful information to real people on what a bunch useless buffoons our elected trash leaders actually are (especially democrats in Wisconsin). These politicians are also hypocrites, for it is they themselves that brought into being government sanctioned extortion sites, in which they display, for all the world to see, any court activity a resident of their state may have had. This was done very early on in the history of the internet. The idea was to hold down the low-income population of their state. It sure did its job. It destroyed job and marriage prospects for a huge chunk of the population. It backfired, as do all their ill-conceived moronic plans. Now few people are getting married and no one is working. Congratulations! Just what a snake billionaire democrat like Kohl would prefer. Desperate population to man his stores. What a pig. I cannot wait until the overthrow, maybe it will happen this year. I pray for the downfall of this government everyday.

  • http://www.illustrationsbyphil.com Phil

    The concern over free enterprise is pure BS. Look at Monsanto, Cargill, Time Warner, Rupert Murdock, and the history of big guys shutting down little guys, ripening to a stench since the King of Deregulation, Ronald Reagan. It is the sound of grabbing the internet by the neck to perform for the big guys. It is probably all over at this point. Just a matter of time to watch the weird diversity of the internet morph into another Hannah Montana concert. The only reply should be “get your hands off my stuff!” Google’s role as spoiler of free markets is not the issue. The issue is where are the stiffs going with this?

  • Anthemage

    I hate Google with a passion these days. Not because it is successful but because I feel that it wants to BE the internet.

    It want’s at least a cent of every dollar spent online one way or another and search results are being manipulated towards that goal.

    However, if you think Google is bad, wait until it is controlled by government – then you’ll be getting results for “Florida” when you type in the search term “holidays in Europe”.

    Like it or not, Google belongs to Google, they can do what the hell they want with it and make the serps as sucky as possible.

    The free market means that if what they provide starts to get too bad then people will go elsewhere and Google will lose market-share naturally.

    • Fred

      This is probably the most reasonable response and has been my position for awhile. The problem with this response is like the issues that exist with say, healthcare”. We all know that the lobbyists for doctors, pharmicuticals, and insurance companies block any possibility of solution in the name of greed. Even while looking at the responses to this issue its obvious that there are many who refuse to look at the big picture and the better of the greater whole out of greed for what is working for themselves, at least right now. Look, there is no doubt that Google is graduallyh taking over complete control of the internet and imposing rules as a dictator. If you freakin’ ignorant people commenting here on what a great company Google is can’t see this then you can fully understand why the government might need to get involved. I’ve just about had it with the government getting involved with any of our many social and economic issues but its happening because greedy people like you that claim what a great company Google is refuse to see the truth out of your own agenda. I seriously hope as time goes on each of you Google supporters “naturally” get stomped in the ground by Google and all of the sudden one day you are on page 30 of the serps because you can no longer play with big boys….and it will happen. We’ll see what a google supporter you are then, lol…ignorant fools!

  • James Bonnar

    Looks like Sen. Kohl forgot to ingest his Ginko Biloba again! All businesses in a free enterprise system are anti-competition and do things for self-benefit. I challenge Sen. Kohl to explain how his own multi-billion dollar business doesn’t do this. Any furthermore, it was elitists like Kohl that declared corporations to be people, so they have freedom of speech under the Bill of Rights. Ha ! Ha ! Your elitism is starting to backfire on you !!!

  • James Bonnar

    Maybe the Senators are worried that if they don’t try to sneak in government censoring of the internet with sham legislation such as this, then the American public is going to be outraged when they find out what their government has done (such as murdering 1.6 million children in Iraq and Afghanistan). People at Google don’t do things like that. But Senators do.

  • John

    Google is about to shoot itself in the foot.

  • http://www.eufreeads.com EuFreeAds

    Is Google anti-competition? I don’t know why any body could ask such question in the first place when everything is obvious. Why would videos posted on Youtube pop to the first pages after just a day or two? Why would a post on Blogger out rank posts from other blogging platforms?

    From the documents posted above. Even Google’s CEO admitted. What else do we need?

    I repeat as I said in one of the previous comments. “We may be looking at an internet dictatorship here”. I will add internet monopoly.

  • http://richinwriters.com Steven

    Freak’n socialists – government is now trying to get online so they can control the information people are receiving. Television is losing power and now that people smart enough to use their own brains are making millions online here comes the freak’n low life socialists who can’t stand the competition. Why don’t these socialist leaders start their own search engine? Oh yea because it’s too hard and risky! Last time I checked Capitalism not socialism brought wealth to the world. Tell these dumb a** senators too compete like the rest of us are doing and stop interfering with the free market. Google had start from the bottom just like everyone else. Let the free market decide what to do with Google, we brought Google up and if we don’t like Google we’ll bring them down. We don’t need no grumpy old communist senator to regulate Google just so he can lower is campaign costs.

    F*** Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee

  • http://www.smartsearchdirect.com Robert

    The problem isn’t Google so much as the environment in which they work. If we didn’t have millions of common sense domain names parked outside of the system Google would have a much better chance of providing usable first page search result matches. As it is, PR shouldn’t be a pyramid with 90% of sites shoved down into PR1 and PR0. PR10 should be the top 10% and so on. Here at http://www.smartsearchdirect.com we provide alternative search methods along side Google. If Google were to be forced to do anything, I’d like to see them required to provide search results to other search provider leach friends like they used to before cutting everyone off, same for Bing.

  • Frank

    Yes!

  • Realist

    Google controls. WalMart controls. Amazon controls. And what would they have to control if not the control that you as the user give them. It is called a free market because you are free to make the choice. Humans are volitional beings.

    All this stupid banter about companies doing excellent at what they do and then being punished is a load of garbage. I suppose you’d rather that _____ (insert large company) should just dish out their ideas, cash and effort in some altruistic gesture to make everyone the same. You do realize that the sum of a room full of zeros is still zero, don’t you?

    If you, Mr. Whiner, have a business and you do it well, so well that the world in general loves your product/service and they exchange their time and money for your service on such a grand scale that it makes you wealthy…should you hope to be broken by the government for it? You are a person who sells a product that men need to men who are willing and able to buy it. You don’t sacrifice your interests to them nor do they sacrifice their interests to you. You deal as equals my mutual consent to mutual advantage. If I were Google I’d be damn proud of every penny that I earned in that manner and would refuse to apologize for my ability.

    As my dad always told me, you can crap in one hand and wish in the other and see which one fills up first.

    • http://www.cencir.com Vegard Vevstad

      Google search a monopoly? When did some 35% and declining become a monopoly? YouTube is another large search engine and not even mentioned. Amazon and similar sites are de facto search engines. We don’t have to like all of Google search to defend it: would you rather have the FTC or the market decide what is good for competition? And even if size were an issue, is there any evidence that Google search is colluding with Bing or Amazon? Is there any evidence that Google search is “dumping” to kill off competition? Is there any evidence that Google search is restricting trade? By the way, is price fixing or territorial restrictions even an issue here? Keep the FTC far away from something it doesn’t understand. (Not that it understands traditional competition, either.)

  • Arnobie

    Who can compete with google? I mean, they are giving consumers pretty stuffs to boast their interest… they’re doing it right now.. I think its time to facebook, microsoft to use what they have earned this past years to compete with google… so that real competetion started…

  • http://www.ads4trees.com Charles

    I am absolutely convinced that Google is fast becoming the greatest hazard to online choice but unlike some of the commenters, I think that the situation can be saved.

    For example, below is a list of areas where Google falls short and is susceptible to good competition:

    - Google’s carbon footprint is 1.5 Million tons per annum, a viable search engine alternative should have zero carbon emissions and people (if they care about climate change, could start using that search engine).
    - Google has no revenue sharing opportunity for you to refer advertisers to Adwords (only AdSense)…and even with their publisher revenue share, it’s all cloak-and-dagger, smoke and mirrors…you never REALLY know how much a click costs or what you made on that click.
    - Google has no environmental benefits – I’d much rather support or use a search provider that has an explicit environmental benefit and pretty decent search results.
    - For an organisation of Google’s profitability, I believe they should do more to create employment.

    Personally I use www.ads4trees.com as my search engine. Not only do you get to search both Google and Bing from a single interface, but for every 500 searches which you do, the company will plant 1 tree as part of their global reforestation efforts.

    I really hope that the YACY project gets momentum and can start to provide good quality search results soon…the future of search NEEDS to be corporation-free, open-source and peer-to-peer.

  • http://trakim.biz/bx91 Keith Darby

    Everybody knows that a U tube video will get your website ranked higher by Google, because Google owns U Tube! Not exactly a fair practice!

    Recently, Google wrote to me saying they had banned some of my sites for ‘Landing Page infractions” but they refuse to tell me which sites they are (I have numerous sites on line) all cloaked and Google will only give me the cloaking prefix which does not identify the specific sites. This is also an unfair practice.

    Someone with a bit of clout needs to look in to some of Google’s practices!

    Keith Darby

  • http://supplementshealth.info Apple

    Decisions from conservative courts make clear that the antitrust laws apply just as much to the new economy as to the old, through our Webmaster Central site,Competition. We also give advertisers detailed information about the ad auction and tips to improve their ad quality scores.flashplayer.

  • Edmoondo

    Google is top quality, they provide a massive collection of tools that you can easily use in your life to enhance, and they provide the best search engine for the web. I’ve checked out all the alternatives, and for me there is nothing in comparison that i would use.

  • http://bagheadkelly.com/ Baghead Kelly

    I have grave privacy concerns with Google especially since they bought Youtube. I changed browsers to Firefox to get away from them only to find they have a deal where the search engine defaults to Google. I change to Lunascape6 only to find that Google got there first. Is there anyway to remove myself from this multi-headed beast? They run the internet now and regulators have been asleep at the wheel.

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