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FTC To Open Antitrust Investigation Against Google

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the still-waiting-on-the-congressional-search-engine dept.

Google 131

itwbennett writes "According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing to serve subpoenas to Google as a first step in a broad antitrust investigation focusing on whether Google search is unfairly driving traffic to its other sites. Representatives of Google and the FTC declined to comment on the report, although an FTC spokesperson did deny that the report came from them."

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131 comments

Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547472)

Good. Google deserves this.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547510)

Not when there are more egregious and blatant violations around.

Re:Good (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547754)

Doesn't matter whether there are more egregious violations around or not. It's been pretty clear for some time that Google has been violating antitrust laws for a while now and that the online advertising space has gotten distinctively less competitive as a result. I'm just surprised that it took this long for an investigation to begin.

Re:Good (2)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548114)

So if I run a company that advertises I can't advertise my other companies?

F* Them...

- Dan.

Re:Good (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548586)

If you run all, or a commanding majority, of all the advertising ad space available, in the US, under many circumstances, it may be true that you may not advertise your other companies, or charge your subsidiaries lower rates than outside ad buyers, or use the price structure to diminsh competitive access to ad space.

Re:Good (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548726)

If you're a monopoly, you can't leverage that monopoly to push your other products anti-competitively. One example would be Google's hard-coded results for specific search terms that place its services at the top of the page regardless of their actual popularity (e.g., Google Finance appearing over the more popular Yahoo Finance, complete with a unique visual presentation). Keep in mind that Google has previously claimed that its search results page is entirely algorithmically driven in response to monopoly concerns.

I have to say, it's interesting how some people's attitudes change when the company involved isn't Microsoft. Google is a gigantic advertising company that happens to hand out free services to get your personal data indexed for their network. They exploit the positive connotation of "open source" and other causes in order to appeal to a certain type of techie, but their motives are just as impure as Microsoft's (and their search engine is as closed source and proprietary as Windows). I'm not really sure why they're afforded the benefit of the doubt by so many fans.

Re:Good (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549306)

. One example would be Google's hard-coded results for specific search terms that place its services at the top of the page regardless of their actual popularity (e.g., Google Finance appearing over the more popular Yahoo Finance, complete with a unique visual presentation).

That's probably not the best example. At least for me, the box at the top of the page has links to all the major services, including Yahoo Finance. Of course, the actual information on stock prices that's displayed in the search results is from Google Finance, but they have to get it from there - they don't have permission to embed anyone else's information.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549570)

If you're a monopoly, you can't leverage that monopoly to push your other products anti-competitively.

What does Google have a monopoly on? Ad space? Facebook, Microsoft and Apple all would like to disagree. Search engine? The cost to switch to a different search engine is exactly zero.
Merely claiming that Google is a monopoly means absolutely nothing. You're going to have to demonstrate why Google is a monopoly first. No one has done that without resorting to brand-new definitions of the word monopoly and market.

One example would be Google's hard-coded results for specific search terms that place its services at the top of the page regardless of their actual popularity (e.g., Google Finance appearing over the more popular Yahoo Finance, complete with a unique visual presentation).

No, it isn't. Google specifically marks out the area above its search results as the sponsored area. There is absolutely no way to confuse the chart that appears as the result of a search for a stock ticker symbol as part of the general page. Not to mention that right underneath the Google Finance chart are links to other chart services. In the search results themselves, Yahoo Finance does come out on top. Are you going to complain as well that on the page where Google search results are displayed, there are links to log in to your Google account, access Google Docs and what not? You probably are. In which case, please explain why any other company is allowed to display links to its properties on a page it owns. Start with Microsoft and Apple.

I have to say, it's interesting how some people's attitudes change when the company involved isn't Microsoft.

No, it really isn't. Not unless you build a few strawmen.

Google is a gigantic advertising company that happens to hand out free services to get your personal data indexed for their network.

True.

They exploit the positive connotation of "open source" and other causes in order to appeal to a certain type of techie, but their motives are just as impure as Microsoft's (and their search engine is as closed source and proprietary as Windows).

No. They appeal to the techie crowd because their products are pretty friggin awesome.

I'm not really sure why they're afforded the benefit of the doubt by so many fans.

Because they have consistently met high expectations. Other companies have not.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure this "Google is an evil monopoly campaign" has been started by various companies who got bloodied by it. You're either shilling for them, or swallowed their crap hook, line and sinker.

Re:Good (2)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36550048)

I support the position postulated by Neutron Cowboy and would like to add two things myself.

1. They *do* use open source, and 2, This kind of action is much more like what MS would do in the first place. If they can't buy it and bury it they litigate it to oblivion. This may be where the big dogs enter the civil war that's been playing out in our courtrooms. Personally, I want to be fighting for the Google.

- Dan.

Re:Good (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36551600)

What does Google have a monopoly on?

He didn't say Google has a monopoly, he talked about if they have a monopoly. That would be one thing this investigation would try to decide.

If they have any monopoly I would say it's probably a monopoly on ad space. You don't need 100% marketshare to fit the legal criteria. Just so dominant as to create an extreme power imbalance vs. its competitors. Google is certainly a dominant player in ad space -- dominant enough to trigger antitrust problems? I don't know.

There is absolutely no way to confuse the chart that appears as the result of a search for a stock ticker symbol as part of the general page.

Have you ever asked a non-technical person, especially a non-technical person who hit adulthood before ever using the Internet, whether they can tell the difference? I think a statistically significant portion of those people will surprise you with their answers. Regardless, just because you can tell the difference doesn't mean their placement has no importance.

In which case, please explain why any other company is allowed to display links to its properties on a page it owns. Start with Microsoft and Apple.

He already did: if they are a monopoly in a relevant field, then new rules on advertising. Microsoft and Apple do not appear to hold monopolies in that field, though they each have completely different fields where they dominate and have or may have monopolies. Does Google? Well, that's what would be investigated.

No. They appeal to the techie crowd because their products are pretty friggin awesome.

That's not a contradiction; that's changing the subject completely.

Because they have consistently met high expectations. Other companies have not.

You're essentially arguing that people lower their expectations because Google meets their high expectations. Because giving them the benefit of the doubt where others would not get it, IS expecting less of Google. This naturally makes it easier to meet the "high" expectations later, meanwhile the "high" expectations can easily dip behind the "low" expectations of group B whose "low" expectations keep getting higher because they failed to meet past low expectations.

It's self-reinforcing bias, which is something everybody should be wary of. To the extent possible, everybody should try and step back and analyse things like companies from a consistent standard. Especially since they are formed of an ever changing mass of people.

You're either shilling for them, or swallowed their crap hook, line and sinker.

Oh please.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548340)

Doesn't matter whether there are more egregious violations around or not. It's been pretty clear for some time that Google has been violating antitrust laws for a while now and that the online advertising space has gotten distinctively less competitive as a result. I'm just surprised that it took this long for an investigation to begin.

"It's been pretty clear for some time" is not an argument. What, specifically, have they done that you think is illegal?

Re:Good (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549422)

You're right it's not an argument it's a statement that it's been pretty clear that they've been violating antitrust laws for some time.

If you're going to be that obtuse, the relevant violation that pretty much led to the rest of this was when they illegally bought out doubleclick. You can't buy out your nearest competitor to give yourself a dominating share of the market, that's a very clear violation of Clayton. Even without doing anything else.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547516)

Good. Google deserves this.

Deserve's got nothing to do with it. [youtube.com]

Re:Good (1)

RPD9803 (669023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547560)

I didn't mind this until I started seeing Google Chrome ads with increasing frequency. It's obviously been affective, considering the penetration of Chrome vs. other webkit browsers (of which where are many, most notably Safari). While certainly some of the differences can be attributed to Chrome really nice feature set, I have a terribly hard time believing prime placement on search result listings, google analytics, google mail, etc. played a significant role.

Re:Good (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547890)

Why would anybody not on a Mac use Safari? Until I googled it I didn't even realize a PC version was available. Perhaps Chrome is popular because people like and respect Google? Personally I don't like Chrome and any ads I've seen haven't convinced me differently.

I'd also like to point out that the first thing you see when you search for web browser on google is an ad for IE9. Chrome is first on the ads on the right but in their regular search results it is 4th (if you don't count the news). I really don't see that as unfair product placement.

Re:Good (0)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547986)

I use chrome because it uses a lot less cpu and memory compared to firefox and ie. It also didn't have as many security vulnerabilities as the aforementioned browsers a few years ago. Overall, it is a superior product.

Re:Good (1)

RPD9803 (669023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548310)

Agreed, but I find it undeniable that the quick rate of adoption is correlated to Google advertising it heavily via their other products.

Re:Good (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548600)

We are clearly having different experiences. When i actually totaled up all the separate chrome processes i found that the resource usage really wasn't all that disparate from Firefox.

Re:Good (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36551610)

How did you total them up? It's nontrivial to compare memory usage of multi-process applications.

Re:Good (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548636)

Since Google is actually in the business of selling ads, i wonder if FTC would complain less if Google actually had one branch of the company pay another branch of the company for the ad space? It would be rather ironic if so, since that's the exact same technique movie studios use to hide profits from successful movies.

Unfair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547564)

I guess, if you consider finding the eigenvalues of a huge matrix unfair. These people should learn something about math and technology.

Re:Unfair? (0)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547724)

Yeah, being better than Google is really hard. That's not fair. And they give all that stuff away. That's not fair either.

Re:Give Free Stuff Away (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548368)

Isn't Gmail recognized as mostly the best free email? They had to beat out incumbents Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL.

They bought Google Earth and started working on Street View. There's your geo angle.

Your choice of a third app they remade into the best.

Is it a sin when the same company gains dominance by winning multiple categories?

And yes, if we're playing lawsuit dominance games, include Apple and Facebook in the fun too.

Re:Unfair? (1)

hansraj (458504) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547758)

Are you just trolling? In case you are not:

Just because a company says that all they do is compute the stationary distribution from this matrix, one should not just take their word and relax. ( (sorry, but the buzzword that you used it not immediately relevant here.)

I love Google and I hope they come out clean, but you comment was unnecessary. It is not going to be an investigation into the soundness of mathematics.

Re:Unfair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36549110)

Is 'eigenvalue' the word that you think is a buzzword? I would say 'stationary distribution' is more of a buzzword. Most likely you have some deformed way of viewing linear algebra. Do you also think that PCA is really deep and different than SVD? Are you from Stanford? Not Courant I would imagine.

Stupidity (3, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547526)

So can we next have a suit against NBC for unfairly putting commercials for their shows ahead of other networks? I realize that Google has become ubiquitous but there are other search engines. I don't see how it is unreasonable for Google to promote their own brand on their page.

Re:Stupidity (5, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547668)

I don't see how it is unreasonable for Google to promote their own brand on their page.

And Microsoft probably didn't see why it was unreasonable to promote their own browser on their operating system. Antitrust legislation is about more than promotion: it prevents you from your dominance in one market to muscle competitors out of a different market. Whether or not Google is actually running afoul of antitrust laws, I don't know, but it's definitely a possibility: you don't think it's possible that so many people are using Google Docs instead of other cloud document editing services because it's right on Google's homepage?

Re:Stupidity (0, Troll)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547722)

The Microsoft antitrust legislation was wrong. It was the result of stupid judges not understanding technology. Unfortunately the precedent has been set and it will be abused.

Re:Stupidity (2)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548030)

The Microsoft antitrust legislation was wrong. It was the result of stupid judges not understanding technology. Unfortunately the precedent has been set and it will be abused.

The court decisions regarding MS were wrong.

But you're incorrect.
Apple has been getting away with worse horseshit for about a decade now.
Google is and will continue to do so as well.

But the moment MS includes a browser or media player with an operating system, the EU fines them another billion Euros and forces them to have a "fair" (meaning, completely retarded and unfair) option that users can select from.

The precedent seems to only apply to Microsoft.

Re:Stupidity (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548460)

Fuck off and read the court documents instead of spouting the same old tedious apologist bullshit. Microsoft were quite rightly punished for their repeated violations and arrogant dismissal of the law. That this shit you spout is perpetuated is the result of stupid nerds not understanding the legal system.

Re:Stupidity (0)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548602)

They violated no laws, liar. They violated post-facto decisions about what they could and could not do. As simple proof of this, find me any law stating explicitly that what Microsoft specifically did was illegal. There are none.

The law was basically "don't do bad shit", and then a bunch of bureaucrats get to decide later if you did "bad shit".

Re:Stupidity (2)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549908)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Antitrust_Act [wikipedia.org]

They used their market dominance to attempt to strong arm PC manufacturers into bundling only I.E. in the O.S. and threatened those that were considering bundling other alternative browsers.

The very definition of anti-competetive.

Re:Stupidity (3, Informative)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547728)

I actually thought the Microsoft thing was ridiculous, too. IE didn't need an anti-trust suit to reduce its marketshare. Anybody could download a different browser and when better browser came out people did.

Re:Stupidity (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548330)

People forget the MS would change the underlying layer to give there browser an advantage. THAT was the real problem.

Re:Stupidity (-1, Flamebait)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548480)

Oh fuck off you clueless arse.

Re:Stupidity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548712)

Aww, listen to the angry, impotent neckbeard Linux dweeb. He's so cute when he's angry!

Re:Stupidity (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549598)

That's because you never understood that clueless (=most) people use the browser that's bundled with the OS on their PC. Microsoft knew it, which is why they strong-armed OEMs into keeping alternative browsers off the desktop. Out of sight, out of mind.

Re:Stupidity (2)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549694)

Not only did MS strong arm OEM's to keep alternative browsers off the desktop but the also strong armed them to keep alternative OS's such as Linux from being available.

How many of us would have bought a business server with *nix and Apache installed instead of Windows and IIS? All of that was part of using their monopoly to kill any competition.

Re:Stupidity (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36551238)

. IE didn't need an anti-trust suit to reduce its marketshare.

IE was a blood sacrifice to avoid getting broken into two companies, one for Windows, one for Office.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547816)

I have to admit that I think that Microsoft and Google should be broken up. Microsoft and Google should not be allowed to write software based on proprietary specifications, have digital restrictions, or use one product to gain an advantage over another. In Microsoft Office Microsoft bundles applications and that shouldn't be legal. Google having a products page or a mail.google.com or a gmail.com on the other hand should be legal. They probably should not be allowed to default to there own email link if they have it on the front page, a docs web program, or anything similar. A template solution should probably be made so that users can select "Google", "Microsoft", "XYZ".

With Internet explorer the defaults are always to Microsoft's products. For instance you have to download other search engines yet if you don't it defaults to Microsoft. This is unfair trade. While better than not being able to change the search engine Microsoft should be forced to not include a default search engine. Users should have to actively select said search engine just like one would for any other search engine. The other option is a laundry list of search engines and companies with a random result.

Re:Stupidity (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547906)

I can't tell if you're being facetious or not.

Hopefully you are. Otherwise, good thing you posted anonymously.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548334)

Google is more like a store to which you travel every time you want something from them. Windows was more like an engine for your car that strongly encouraged you to use their proprietary gasoline.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548842)

the difference was that people didn't have a choice between what browser to choose from. Think of EU's antitrust solution against IE, it required microsoft to offer a variety of browser choices for consumers to choose from.

I see no difference from google search. Their results may be near the top, but you still have choices underneath it.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36549700)

Google doesn't really have the same sort of monopoly that Microsoft does, though. Anyone can compete with Google by building a better search engine. But when an OS better than Windows comes out, consumers won't buy it because no one writes programs for it, and no one writes programs for it because consumers don't buy it. There's a genuine unreasonable barrier to entry into Microsoft's market, and that's just not true of Google.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547680)

I think some people do not understand reality.

Google may give themselves ad placements for their own products for free but wait free? no it isn't free to google at all
For every position on ad words a Google product sits there is a loss of revenue from another advertising partner.
As such it costs google X amount in lost revenue.

Same applies to TV stations every ad they place for their own products or show they lose the potential revenue from that advertising position.

As far as the google home page which has links to News, Gmail (other google products)
this is web design 101 taught to all students, every webpage within your websites should be accessible in some way from the home page in less than 3 clicks

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547686)

Company A has majority control over Market X.

If Company B is strongly affected by Market X, then it follows that it is strongly affected by Company A. So it's not unreasonable for the FCC to investigate Company A for anti-competitive behaviour.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548484)

Unless it involves putting nipples on television it's completely unreasonable for the FCC to investigate a trade matter.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547710)

So can we next have a suit against NBC for unfairly putting commercials for their shows ahead of other networks? I realize that Google has become ubiquitous but there are other search engines. I don't see how it is unreasonable for Google to promote their own brand on their page.

Like Microsoft discovered, if you prepackage your other products with your OS it's fine if you are a normal OS vendor. But Microsoft is not a 'normal' OS vendor any more than Google is a 'normal' search engine. When you dominate 95% of the OS market things the rules change because you are now in a position to squash anybody that gets in your way. If Google sets up some web based service and decides to leverage their search engine to promote it at the expense of other people who are offering the same service Google should roasted for it.

Re:Stupidity (0)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547822)

But Google isn't "packaging" anything. When I go to google.com I see a pretty empty page with a big search box in the middle. Sure there are links at the top but they are minimal. When I search for "email" google's email does come up at top but right after it are yahoo, hotmail, mail.com, a wikipedia link about email, and then AOL. On the ad supported sidebar mail.com is first and google is actually 4th.

When I search for maps I get google but then mapquest, yahoo, bing, etc.

So is the problem that google is first? I mean what company in their right mind doesn't link themselves first? And it probably isn't unreasonable to think that these products are used more because they are truly superior to their competitors.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548582)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure Hand's ruling of United States v. Alcoa established that having a superior product is anticompetitive.

Re:Stupidity (1)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547718)

According to this logic, Microsoft didn't commit any antitrust violations in the late 90s either.

The thing about antitrust law is that it's fine to grow to have a dominant position (even a monopoly), but you aren't allowed to leverage that position to unfairly compete in other areas. Google has a dominant position in search, but they shouldn't be allowed to leverage that position to unfairly compete in other areas.

That said, all the complaints I've seen against Google so far for "unfair promotion" have been sour grapes from companies with crappy sites or spam farms. I trust Google specifically because I know it's in their economic best interest to give me the best results and to weed out these crappy sites.

lulz (2)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547780)

dude.

you realize that blogspot blogs are not the best blogs, right? and that they pop up top 10 for a very specific reason, right?

Re:lulz (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548346)

They are the most popular.
Best is subjective.

Re:lulz (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36551036)

dude.

you realize that blogspot blogs are not the best blogs, right? and that they pop up top 10 for a very specific reason, right?

that seems like a generalization.

sure, most professionals apparently choose wordpress, though I see no reason why someone could not create more relevant content on blogspot.

Google search is about relevance, so "best blogs" to Google search may well be different to "best blogs" according to you.

Of course, you could be correct too, but we cant deduce that just because of search placings alone.

Re:Stupidity (1)

mpgalvin (207975) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548604)

>> I trust Google specifically because I know it's in their economic best interest to give me the best results and to weed out these crappy sites.

I don't anymore. They've apparently decided it is in their best interests to make it appear as though their other properties and endeavors are the best results.
See the trailing-comma test, it still works - most notably for stock symbol queries.

And to answer your second point : Tripadvisor's complaint against Google was completely legitimate. They were being scraped, straight up.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547792)

Agreed, I thought this was the land of the free and not the land of the FTC.

Re:Stupidity (2)

mutewinter (688449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36551244)

Ben Edelman has done a truly exceptional job documenting the anti-trust issues involving Google's advertising.

NBC is not a monopoly, Google is. Google makes Microsoft's old monopoly look like a walk in the park. Google not only has the most used search engine but controls or has a majority chunk of the online advertising market flow through it (at least in the US, I'm sure there are exceptions on a country by country basis.) Additionally they now have what is likely to be come the #1 mobile phone operating system and potentially what could become the #1 web browser.

People go to Google to look for stuff. Lets say your business advertises on Google (mine does), and Google wants to do the same thing as your business does. Thanks to either their existing infrastructure or that you are advertising on their platform they know everything about how your business gets traffic. With the wave of a magic wand all of those search keywords and display ad placements are now directly to Google's new competitive service. I have seen Google do this in multiple markets, including my own. How do you compete against Google? You can't. Virtually every user wanting something specific comes from search.

That is an incredibly powerful monopoly, much more so than Microsoft's was.

Areas Google has already used this to their advantage: Google News (vs multiple news sites), Google Finance (Yahoo Finance and others), Google Shopping (infinite shopping sites), Google Health (WebMD etc), Google Places (remember the whole Yelp review jacking thing), and so on.

Unlike Microsoft, Google is actually putting out exceptional products and I am very thankful for that. But, a monopoly is a monopoly, and if anti-competitive practices are involved (strongly likely) US law has something to say about that. Thus any disagreement with this issue lays with US law rather than Google or the FTC.

By the way, I strongly recommend what Ben Endelman has written about this subject. I would take a guess he figured this out first.

http://www.benedelman.org/searchbias/ [benedelman.org]
http://www.benedelman.org/hardcoding/ [benedelman.org] (If I recall correctly Google was caught here telling lies)
http://www.benedelman.org/news/092810-1.html [benedelman.org]

USDOJ vs MSFT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547600)

If the DOJ's case against Microsoft is any indication Google has NOTHING to worry about.

Don't be evil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547602)

..., you don't need to, we already are enough evil.

- Google

priorities (2)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547650)

So Google pushing their own services to voluntary users of it's free service warrants an anti-trust investigation, but for some reason net neutrality isn't taken seriously by hardly anyone in washington?

What a joke.

Re:priorities (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547970)

Google violated Clayton to get the dominant market position they have in the online ad space, they are now being accused of bumping their ads for their own products ahead of buyers of ad space. If that's the case, then they're definitely in violation, whereas with net neutrality there isn't yet any evidence that there has been an antitrust violation that would trigger any antitrust investigations.

Re:priorities (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548016)

That's a pretty bold statement to make without presenting any evidence. How is it that you are so sure of their guilt while the FTC is just starting to look for evidence? What insider information do you have?

Re:priorities (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549468)

It's not a bold statement to make, you can't buy out your next largest competitor to create a concern which makes up the vast majority of an industry. Hence, why I pointed out the Clayton Antitrust Act. It's not really a question of whether or not it's a violation, it's a question of why it is that nobody bothered to prosecute it.

The only thing I can think of is that the DoJ under Bush wasn't particularly into antitrust enforcement.

Re:priorities (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548466)

So Google pushing their own services to voluntary users of it's free service warrants an anti-trust investigation, but for some reason net neutrality isn't taken seriously by hardly anyone in washington?

The net neutrality rules that the FCC adopted were the results of a process that started with an investigation, the FTC action that is reported to be imminent (but which has not actually occurred) with regard to Google is starting an investigation. The former is obviously more serious than the latter, so I don't think the comparison you present is defensible.

Another waste of time and money... (5, Insightful)

callit (1900158) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547682)

yep. keep rubberstamping deals like nbc-comcast and the soon to be att-t-mobile. Ignore the consistent anti-consumer policies of most ISPs and cable operators... and waste time on a company supporting its own business model in a way that barely affects consumers, but may impact other companies? Why is the government so anti-consumer and pro-corporation right now? Just how much money does it take to buy a senator anyway?

Re:Another waste of time and money... (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547964)

Depends on the industry and how much you want them to do. just vote yes or no on a certain piece of legislation? a few thousand to hundred thousand. To represent your interests over the majority of people? a few million. All per year by the way. *sarcasm* they have to earn a living too *sarcasm*

Re:Another waste of time and money... (2)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548658)

Our government is nothing more than a proxy for large corporations to use to "compete" Google is gaining strength fast, and those companies that have deep connections in DC are likely the ones who are ultimately pulling the levers. I find it interesting though, that from my perspective, conservatives seem to be very anti-Google and pro-MS. Not sure why, nor do I know if it's even true.. just seems that way to me. But by and large the media companies and communication companies seem to be very strong these days.. and Google is a threat to them, so it doesn't surprise me that there is a government "investigation" happening.

Re:Another waste of time and money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548732)

Lest you forget, Google is a corporation. The FTC investigating them for unfair business practices in NO WAY hurts consumers. At all. But if it is found that they are participating in unfair business practices it COULD help consumers. So I am curious why consumers give a flying fuck about Google being investigated.

Re:Another waste of time and money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36550714)

... because Google is quite possible the most pro-consumer company in existence, and anything that hurts them and makes their competitors more powerful would be bad for consumers?

Re:Another waste of time and money... (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 3 years ago | (#36550522)

Just how much money does it take to buy a senator anyway?

With rampant favoritism toward lobbyists and campaign contributors such a figure might be useful to know. For example, people with like beliefs and similar needs (e.g. a geographic region) might band together and produce an adequate amount to buy a legislator to represent their interests. Hopefully the 'donations' to the cause would be tax deductible...

Obviously, I jest, but this might actually be a good idea. Raise senator/representative salaries to fair market value and make the taxes that go to said salary optional. I'd guess that most people would be willing to spare $2 a month for someone to fight for their interests. $2 per month * 4.3 million people in my state / 8 legislators = ~$1 million per month in salary dependent on keeping constituents happy. There's no need for the 1700s model of sending a respected member of the community off for months at a time to fight for their community's interests essentially autonomously, it's 2011 and we now have trivial realtime mass communication.

What's Their Problem? (0)

Improbus (1996348) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547712)

Google has a better product and no one is forced to use it. Makes me wonder who paid the FTC to look into this. Could it be ... oh ... I don't know ... Microsoft?

Re:What's Their Problem? (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547848)

Yeah, because Google could never possibly do anything wrong. I mean their motto even says so, right?

Re:What's Their Problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548144)

"Evil" and "wrong" are not necessarily equal.

oh noes, now my blogspot will not show up top 10 (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547748)

how unfair!

Re:oh noes, now my blogspot will not show up top 1 (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36547782)

Er, google has never manipulated their search ranking to favor themselves or someone in particular. If, so they would be under serious trouble!

Re:oh noes, now my blogspot will not show up top 1 (1, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548132)

Er, google has never manipulated their search ranking to favor themselves or someone in particular. If, so they would be under serious trouble!

LOL! Of course they have!
Search for any noun and you get a Wikipedia page in the top 10, guaranteed, despite it likely not being what anyone fucking wants.
Search for "email" and you get gmail as the first result every fucking time, despite both hotmail and yahoo mail having FAR more active users than gmail.
Search for any video, and you'll get endless broken links to google video. Well, you used to, but now these are being replaced with broken links to youtube.com where the video is removed or it's a shitty "reaction" video. I want my porn and shock videos and Google buries the results. Use Bing for any video content - they don't have a video site that loses millions of dollars per day they need to pimp out. (And if you don't believe me, just search for some porn on Bing. Wash your hands, then thank me.)

Re:oh noes, now my blogspot will not show up top 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548326)

So, if you type "cat", what do you "fucking" want?

Re:oh noes, now my blogspot will not show up top 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36549214)

Er, google has never manipulated their search ranking to favor themselves or someone in particular. If, so they would be under serious trouble!

LOL! Of course they have!
Search for any noun and you get a Wikipedia page in the top 10, guaranteed, despite it likely not being what anyone fucking wants.
Search for "email" and you get gmail as the first result every fucking time, despite both hotmail and yahoo mail having FAR more active users than gmail.
Search for any video, and you'll get endless broken links to google video. Well, you used to, but now these are being replaced with broken links to youtube.com where the video is removed or it's a shitty "reaction" video. I want my porn and shock videos and Google buries the results. Use Bing for any video content - they don't have a video site that loses millions of dollars per day they need to pimp out. (And if you don't believe me, just search for some porn on Bing. Wash your hands, then thank me.)

How are any of your anecdotes evidence google is favoring their own properties? Are you saying the non-profit Wikipedia foundation is paying them?

Re:oh noes, now my blogspot will not show up top 1 (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548680)

This is purely anecdotal, but I've seen pages rise and fall in rankings simply by including Google Analytics on a site. I had a site ranking normally, someone goofed and removed the analytics code, and the pages mysteriously dropped off in rankings. The omission was caught, put back in, and the pages mysteriously returned to their previous ranking.

lulzy lulz (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549212)

google is our god. Google owns our soul.

either that or i forgot to take my medication

Monopolies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547908)

Monopolies occur when people don't have a choice. Being better at something than everyone else and using the that to leverage your other products doesn't count as a monopoly. People can still chose to use Yahoo or Bing or anything else. I don't see how consumer's are being forced into anything.

Re:Monopolies (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36550072)

You can only have a true monopoly with government backing. Otherwise a leaner meaner competitor can always come along and take your market share.

Re:Monopolies (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36551264)

careful with that Matrix - you break it, you buy it.

This 'unfair competition' thing is so dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36547928)

Why don't you make better products instead of whining?
You can now proceed to post extreme examples which will prove what I just said wrong.

Integration (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36548230)

Since when did we decide integration of services was a bad thing?

Microsoft doesn't push traffic to Bing through use of their Windows OS and IE browser?

Apple doesn't push traffic to their music and app stores through their iPhone and iPods which are LOCKED to using iTunes?

Be leery of google (1)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548292)

I like google. I use at least one of their products on a daily basis, and most of their products are superior than their competition's. Google is incredibly innovative and most of what they have done has been beneficial. They have put a lot of hard work getting to where they are today, which I have a great deal of respect for. They are also a public corporation, and the ultimate objective of a public corporation is to make money and remain competitive to continue remaining profitable. Just because a company is behaving itself now does not in any way imply it will continue to do so in the future. Google has penetrated many markets, some to the point where their competition is laughable. A company becoming a monopoly is never a good thing. The amount of power they can wield is enormous, and the incentives to conduct themselves responsibly diminishes. When you have a product or service only one company can provide the incentive to expand beyond that product diminishes as well, stifling innovation.

Re:Be leery of google (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548372)

" and the ultimate objective of a public corporation is to make money"

wrong. Hell, even Ayn Rand new that was an incorrect statement.

Re:Be leery of google (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548974)

OK, so enlighten us. What is the ultimate objective of a corporation?

Re:Be leery of google (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549250)

What is the ultimate objective of a corporation?

What is the ultimate objective of a person? Just as the latter varies from person to person, the former varies from corporation to corporation. Its true that with corporations -- particularly widely held and/or publicly traded ones -- the shared interests of their stockholders weighted according to the ratio in which they hold voting rights (which is what, approximately, a corporation exists to serve) tends to heavily favor financial returns as the dominant goal, that's not the universal and exclusive goal of all corporations, or even all publicly traded corporations, and Google's unusual structuring of stock voting rights when it went public makes it particularly plausible that Google's pre-IPO shareholders didn't see that as their only goal and wanted to take steps to avoid it becoming the company's only goal.

Re:Be leery of google (4, Insightful)

macshit (157376) | more than 3 years ago | (#36551428)

Er, sure, but be much, much, more leery of Google's enemies -- you know, the ones that are lobbying for investigations like this.

Because the alternative to Google isn't (in the short term) some scrappy and lovable FOSS underdogs, it's vast evil entities like Microsoft and Facebook.

Addendum: Be very scared.

Wait a minute... (4, Funny)

Demerara (256642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548420)

The agency's five-member panel of commissioners is preparing to send its formal demands for information to Google within days, these people said

Can't they simply google the information?

Are you fucking kidding me? (3, Interesting)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#36548976)

No one gives a shit about the media conglomerates and the ISP Monopolies that threaten the Internet economy, but google tailoring search to their end user's habits to make the searches more reliant is some how a bad thing for the market?

A breakup in its future? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549044)

Like AT&T received? Or just a symbolic handslap like Microsoft got?

The first amendment (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36549524)

It seems unlikely that any ruling that Google must not put something on their website is going to survive appeal on first amendment grounds.

They will have to issue one to microsoft to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36549704)

They will have to issue one to microsoft to, as we all know that bing search results are sourced from google via "customer feedback" settings in IE.

Is this really a surprise? (1)

dmendanor (2302252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36550660)

Given how clueless American legislators have proven themselves to be about online business in the past (e.g., the failed attempts to apply state sales taxes to Amazon which resulted in Amazon dropping their affiliates in those states - ooops, no sales = no sales tax!), is it really any surprise that they're now going after the big G?

Re:Is this really a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36550754)

Given that you are so clueless as to not know the difference between a federal agency and state legislatures, is really any surprise that you make a stupid post like that?

Cup of tea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36551042)

I dont like having big corps having to much power over my life, do you? The more power and information someone controls and you dont then, kinda makes you powerLEss maybe. i dont know ,you tell me, how do you take your freedoms? restrictive and controls you, or freedom to do what you like. Googles not a small time guy winging out some software for you. Its a huge conglomerate trying to dominate, Shame on google.

What do you want for free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36551068)

They can do whatever they want, search somewhere else if you don't get the results you expect.

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