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Senators Recommend FTC Perform Antitrust Investigation Of Google

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the do-no-competing dept.

Google 315

SharkLaser writes "U.S. Senators have written to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about their concerns over Google's Internet monopoly. Google executives did themselves no favors when the Senators looked at Google's business practices in September. When asked if Google has monopoly in online search, Google chairman Eric Schmidt is quoted as saying 'I would agree, Senator, that we are in that area.' Another worrying quote is from Marissa Meyer, Google's VP of location services, who said that it was 'only fair' that Google put its own sites on higher placements than competitors. The Senators are also warning that Google is only facing one real competitor (PDF), Microsoft's Bing. Almost all other metasearch engines use either Google or Bing technology to deliver search results, including DuckDuckGo which uses Bing. In Europe Google is currently under investigation of monopoly abuse and the EU has also delayed Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility."

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monopoly on free service... (5, Interesting)

swinferno (1212408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448144)

is a monopoly on something that is free, against the law?

Re:monopoly on free service... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448172)

Of course. It is a superior product that everyone uses, thus it is a monopoly.

Re:monopoly on free service... (4, Insightful)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448232)

lol, I hope you are just trolling.

Monopoly means its the only one. Ma Bell was a monopoly. Google isn't a monopoly, it's just successful.

Re:monopoly on free service... (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448314)

Furthermore, just being a monopoly isn't, generally, enough to get in trouble. Using your monopoly status illegally, generally to force customers to use your other products, is illegal. You'd have to make an argument that Google is unfairly forcing their search users to also use their other services, which is an argument that can probably be made but is going to be hard to sell when nearly all their services are provided for free.

Re:monopoly on free service... (5, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448442)

Not in the light of the remark quotes in the summary. If they have a monopoly of search, it is reasonable that they report search results as impartially as reasonably possible. But the quote implies that Google will bias its results to favour its own sites. If it were one of many, this wouldn't matter; people could decide to use more impartial search engines if they wished. But if it is a monopoly, this could be construed as abuse of monopoly power. Monopolists are held to a higher standard than those with competition. (And, ISTM, this breaks the now-dropped "Don't Be Evil" maxim. Providing clearly marked advertising around honest search results is fine; providing slanted search results is not).

Re:monopoly on free service... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448664)

"You'd have to make an argument that Google is unfairly forcing their search users to also use their other services,"

The argument for a monopoly is generally about the customers, and the people searching on Google are not the customers. People searching on Google are part of the product. The advertisers are the Google's customers. If Google is overly dominant in the advertising or possibly even in just the search/advertising markets, AND they are charging more when they feel someone is competing with them, it could very well be considered anti-competitive behavior.

Also, if they have search dominance, and are using that to gain advantage in other markets(even if their only profit in those markets is ad revenue), then they could also be considered anti-competitive.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448412)

Monopoly does not, in fact mean "only one". Not in today's markets, and not in US or EU law.

Monopoly simply means commanding the market. I believe the EU has brought penalties against "Monoplolies" holding a measly 37% market share.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448936)

Yes let's chase after Google for having a monopoly on a free search, yet let people have no other choices in areas where it really counts, I'm thinking squarely of power companies, there's only one in my area there used to be two, I'm thinking high speed internet providers, think of all those who have one choice of high speed provider. I'm thinking Microsoft as well while I'm at it.

Why not though it's not like we don't have anything else that this money could be used for.

Re:monopoly on free service... (3, Informative)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448200)

No, but having a monopoly in one area legally precludes you from leveraging that monopoly to boost your business in other areas (mapping, advertising, email, online video, online document editing, mobile operating systems, etc etc etc).

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448250)

No, but if they use that monopoly to gain an unfair advantage, it is. (i.e. Microsoft)

e.g. If they tell someone who uses Google that they can only use Google, and any radio, newspaper or Bing advertisements will result in them being banned for life from Google, that would be unfair. A natural monopoly just because no-one else is as smart as you is ok.

Re:monopoly on free service... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448384)

Kind of like you can't use Android without Google?

Re:monopoly on free service... (2)

Lomegor (1643845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448428)

Re:monopoly on free service... (0)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448536)

For really shitty definitions of working.

From the second link:

"I have the standard Android Contacts app, but without Google it does not sync to my Google contacts. I plan to remove my contacts from Google and write a small app that provides ContactsProvider2 via XMPP in an effort to decentralize and federate contact syncing."

Ok, so I have to write an app to get contact syncing?

Brilliant.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448696)

In fact I have only Froyo still, and you can export the contacts individually or en masse to the SD card or off the phone via Bluetooth or email or MMS. The contacts are exported as a vCard 2.1 file (.vcf) which I edited by hand (using vi, a commonplace free text editor) then reimported the corrected contacts to my phone with no loss of information.

its a pretty good backup, on my laptop. Google account not required.

Re:monopoly on free service... (0)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448732)

Great syncing solution.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448706)

So you need a Google app to use a Google service and this is somehow supposed to be a "monopoly"?

It's suboptimal but not exactly a "monopoly".

One could simply use a Contact management method that doesn't use Google anything outside of the phone itself. I think that was one of the first things I installed for my own (Android) phone.

Troll harder.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448748)

Got any syncing services that run on Android and don't use Google services?

Re:monopoly on free service... (3, Informative)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448932)

Yes, quite a few. Microsoft exchange for example. And anyone can write account services with syncing, all APIs are public.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448950)

Erm. How do you plan to synch to Google contacts without use of a Google API? Now, if he would have said that he can't use contacts at all, fine. But he's complaining that he can't use easily access Google contacts when he removed the various Google hooks? *facepalm*

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448712)

Also, from the first link, Schmidt said it was possible to not use Google search. He didn't say it was possible to not use Google services while running Android.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448742)

It's possible to do so - it's just that no one has bothered to write an app suite to use alternative services that can come close to Google Apps. There's nothing preventing anyone from doing so.

Re:monopoly on free service... (0)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448808)

So, it's possible to do so, but you can't actually do that right now. I wonder why.

That's what monopoly abuse looks like.

Re:monopoly on free service... (5, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448964)

So, it's possible to do so, but you can't actually do that right now. I wonder why.

That's what monopoly abuse looks like.

By your definition, any new invention, in any field, is monopoly abuse. After all, when it first appears, there is no alternative, therefore it's a monopoly that's being abused.

Now, if Google were to make it technically impossible to do so (which they haven't), or legally forbid others from doing so (which they haven't), then it would be monopoly abuse.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38449012)

There are many alternative services, written by third parties, and even basic android comes with services like Microsoft exchange. My SGS2 arrived with Windows Live Mail and Yahoo Mail syncing, plus lots of social services.

The google ones work the best though.

Re:monopoly on free service... (4, Informative)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448448)

Yes you can. In fact, Motorola launched a series of android phones that used Bing for everything on Verizon. Now, they were a flop because they sucked, but that's not Google's fault...

Re:monopoly on free service... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448986)

If that were true (won't get into that debate but looks like it's already been covered in other comments) that would potentially be an abuse of an smartphone monopoly, which they're not accused of having. An abuse of their search monopoly would be if you couldn't use Google search on a smartphone that wasn't Android.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448290)

Monopolies aren't against the law, though abusing a monopoly position is.

Re:monopoly on free service... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448506)

the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is afraid all there MS computers will stop working.
Who is the Monopoly?

Re:monopoly on free service... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448564)

price dumping.

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448600)

Search is not a monopoly yet at least on desktop computers- go ask altavista, infoseek, hotbot.

I've actually been using Bing for some searches because I'm too lazy to put double quotes around everything, or:

Click More search tools on the left side of the search results page.
Click Verbatim.

Nobody is stopping you from making a better search engine and/or interface than Google.

Start small, try it on Amazon EC2, if it's successful try to get big discounts/incentives/$$$$ from Microsoft to migrate it to Windows Azure ;).

Re:monopoly on free service... (4, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448606)

It may be free for me and you, but it so happens that we aren't google's clients. In fact, we are google's product. Just like facebook, these companies rely on us to grant them "eyes" for advertisements and our personal information for them to profit as they see fit.

As a more sinister aspect of this monopoly, if everyone relies on a single private company to access information then they also control what we can and cannot access. For example, google currently censors our search results [torrentfreak.com] in order to bury sites which google doesn't want us to access, sites such as the pirate bay, isohunt and 4shared. If we keep relying on them to access information then what today affects only harmless download sites, tomorrow may also cover sites on political parties, corruption scandals, disasters and whatever they see fit. And, of course, potential google competitors.

So, a monopoly affects a lot more than our wallet, and google is currently placing itself as both the knowledge gatekeeper and big brother. You bet it poses a serious danger to humanity.

Possible monopoly on a NOT free service... (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448826)

"is a monopoly on something that is free, against the law?"

It's free to you. It's not free to advertisers who are google's actual customers of its main business area.

Your eyes on google's search pages are the commodity being sold.

Look at broadcast TV in the decades before cable. It was free to the "users". It wasn't free to the actual customers, the advertisers. The user's (viewers) attention was what was being sold.

(This isn't saying google is doing anything wrong, or right for that matter. Just that your picture of it being a "free" service is wrong.)

Re:monopoly on free service... (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#38449020)

Google's product is not a search engine. Google's product is advertising space on its search engine -- that is what they sell to make money. That advertising space is definitely not free.

How (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448204)

is it a monopoly when why are the best because everyone else is just that bad.

Re:How (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448370)

It's not. Suppose you buy a piece of property, that because of your insight, or dumb luck, turns out to be the best property for some activity. Think oil well, or prime seafront property.

You have a monopoly on that property, and control over it. That's ok. What's not ok is when you start to tell your customers that you won't deal with them at all if they ever use a competitor's product.

Excellent legal hackers can invent ways that are just this side of monopoly practices, but effectively give you control over your customers. Sometimes they go too far, and the FTC has to step in. Sometimes your competitors cry foul to their congresspeople, just to get you to back off. But, it's unlikely that any large business is 100% free of monopolist practices.

ddg uses bing? (1)

mhh91 (1784516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448220)

Proof?

Re:ddg uses bing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448306)

http://www.muktware.com/news/3012 [muktware.com]

The news was on most of the major sites, except slashdot.

Re:ddg uses bing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448324)

http://help.duckduckgo.com/customer/portal/articles/216399-sources

bing is one of 50 apparently

Re:ddg uses bing? (1)

SilentChasm (998689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448576)

Sources [duckduckgo.com]

DuckDuckGo gets its results from over 50 sources, including DuckDuckBot (our own crawler), crowd-sourced sites (in our own index), Yahoo! BOSS, embed.ly, WolframAlpha, EntireWeb, Bing & Blekko.

Added bold for emphasis. Granted they seem to do a lot more than just Bing so the summary is somewhat misleading (a misleading slashdot summary, how shocking).

Really? (1)

idbeholda (2405958) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448248)

I wasn't aware that a monopoly could be considered against a company when users by and large prefer a service they offer over their competitors. I wonder what's going to happen with this one, am I going to be forced to use a different search provider? Fat chance.

Re:Really? (2)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448354)

The idea is this:

Being a monopoly is fine. (In this regard, a Monopoly is defined as holding a lion's share of the market, regardless of how many actual competitors there are.)

Being a monopoly, and *using* that market share advantage to take more of a share in other markets (using "search" to steal share in "advertising", for example), is deemed anti-competitive and subject to Anti-Trust laws and penalties.

Note: I am not taking sides in this, simply doing my best at explaining the concept behind what is going on here.

Re:Really? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448912)

I think you are confusing a few things here.

Search is not Google's market. Advertising is. It sells eyeballs to marketing departments. That's its cash cow. Here is its business model: offer a variety of services for free to attract users, then sell those users to marketing departments. It has a service for maps, for search and for email, all of which are doing very well. It has a variety of other services that are not doing nearly so well. Furthermore, only the search service can be considered as even approaching monopoly status, as maps and email are still very well served by competitors (MS just being one to offer both).

So where does that leave the claim of abuse of monopoly? It's a farce.

1) Google needs to have a monopoly. It doesn't, as there are plenty of ad agencies selling ads on the Internet. I would like to know how much ads Google sells as a percentage of the total ads sold on the Internet, but I'd be shocked if that was over 30%.
2) Even assuming it has a monopoly on search (or God forbid, the Internet), Google needs to be able to leverage one monopoly to force users into another product. It can't do that, because switching a map and search engine provider is a matter of clicking somewhere else on the Internet. Putting a link on its corporate pages cannot possibly qualify as abusing a monopoly. Not when other corporate pages are a few keyboard strokes or mouse clicks away.

Compare that with an actual monopoly like various Windows versions, where programs were either prohibited from running on the OS through various delaying strategies (see WordPerfect) or had to compete with similarly featured programs that came pre-installed, and could not be uninstalled.

All I can say here is: congratulations, Google competitors. You've demonstrated that it is easier to buy a Congress than it is to release polished software.

I'm also shocked that there is no sight of InsightIn140bbytes. Maybe his shift only starts at 8AM PT.

Intersting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448252)

I can't wait to find out what Bonch thinks about this - after carefully onsidering all the angles and the fine nuance of the situation, will he conclude that Google have got it right on this, or will he have his doubts?

Who's choice is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448270)

Last time i checked i had the choice to goto bing.com OR google.com. Seems everyone i know also has that choice. I wonder if there's anyone who doesn't have that choice?

Google? But not Microsoft? (5, Insightful)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448278)

Really? I know Microsoft Bashing is a sport here on /. and all, but it just blows my mind that we let MS do as they will but Google needs to be checked out. Hm.

Google has like 64% (google market share [bloomberg.com] ), with competitors Bing and Yahoo (now powered by Bing), and some others.

Microsoft has a 91% market share ( windows market share [bgr.com] ) with competitors Linux (FOSS) and Mac OSX (only available on Apple hardware, Apple openly sues you for building hackintoshes).

And yet GOOGLE is the one who needs investigating? Really?

Oh wait, I forgot, Microsoft is all buddy-buddy with congressmen.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (4, Insightful)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448304)

And lets not forget that 91% is an all-time low. Linux has been slowly gaining market share. Windows has had a 95%+ market share for over a decade.

Then there's the fact that the EU is suing MS for millions and millions for their practices with IE, but over here in the US, its A-OK.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448372)

Let us also not forgot that many GNU/Linux users are dual booting. I do not think many people use multiple search engines.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448612)

Yet it's easier and less time consuming to use multiple search engines than it is to install two OSes and dual-boot.

Google could block Bing and other Microsoft sites from their search, now that would be questionable practices right there. Or they could be super evil and block Bing from their DNS. But they don't, because that would be evil. That would be the sort of thing Microsoft would do, kind of like bribing politicians to embroil your competitors with baseless anti-trust legislation.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448768)

I use multiple search engines. I primarily use DDG but somethings, like image searching is better done on Google and it's so easy to do a google search from DDG.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38449004)

I did not say that nobody use multiple search engines, I said that not many people do so. People who use a search engine other than Google tend to not use Google at all; on the other hand, many people who use a non-Windows OS will dual boot with Windows.

follow the $ (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448406)

seriously, let's just cut to the chase here:

who's paying off which senators to do this?

congress doesn't do ANYTHING on principle any more & this doesn't make sense on principle anyway so obviously somebody (m$?) is greasing some palms to get this on the docket. debating it on the merits (or lack thereof) is completely irrelevant & a waste of time as we all know that isn't what drives the process.

sorry, but I'm in a particularly cynical mood today after reading Matt Tiabbi's latest article...

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448470)

Microsoft had been lobbying governments to investigate Google for over a year now. They have been accusing google of being anticompetitive. They even marshaled some of their partners to complain to to governments bout google. Microsoft is behind all of this.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (2)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448560)

No justice in the US anymore, just money and power.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448534)

Google runs things like the Google transparency report:

http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/ [google.com]

It's government's worst nightmare, a large corporate with a major prescence that doesn't bow down to it's every whim.

This is in stark contrast to the likes of Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, who gladly do what government wants. How much of a share of social networking does Facebook own? how much of a share of the music player market does Apple own, whilst using that share to tie people in with DRM on movies, and previously music to force them to replace with more Apple products or lose their content?

This isn't about whether Google has a monopoly or not, it's about fall into line and play ball, or we'll fuck your business over.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (1)

Atomus (2500840) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448676)

it just blows my mind

You beat me to the punch on that statement. I literally was thinking that when read the article.

It's because Google doesn't put enough money into Congress's pockets. That's why the entertainment industry is getting away with ridiculous laws, why the telecomm industry is sitting pretty nicely with no new competition, why the cable industry is allowed to have regional monopolies...

But unfortunately, I hate to see the day the tech industry decides to fight fire with fire. Sure consumers will win in the short term, but what happens when the tech industry gets so deep in Congress's pockets? Think privacy invasion, ToS, and EULAs are bad now?! As much as I would like to see Google dump huge amounts of money into Congress, I really don't think it would be the best way to go for consumers.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (0)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448710)

Really? I know Microsoft Bashing is a sport here on /. and all, but it just blows my mind that we let MS do as they will but Google needs to be checked out. Hm.

Microsoft has already been checked out. It's Google's turn. You act like Google has something to fear from an FTC investigation. It's not like they been penetrating every market by undercutting competition or offering multi-million dollar deals to browser projects to make them the default browser engine. Relax. I'm sure everything will be fine.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448832)

Anyone else could have made Firefox an offer. They didn't.

Oh yeah, and it's only making Google the default - it's really damn easy to change, unlike, for example, the incredibly difficulty of extracting IE from a Windows system.

Microsoft uses their large market share to keep market share, with aggressive vendor lock-in practices.

Google, on the other hand, actively fights against vendor lock-in whenever they can. Gmail can export contacts as CSV, etc.

http://www.dataliberation.org/ [dataliberation.org] - this is about as far from a monopolistic practice as you can get.

Re:Google? But not Microsoft? (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448838)

It's not market share that determines if you violate antitrust legislation, it's what you do with it.
You can have a 100% market share without having done anything wrong ( if not you could never
bring a new product to the market, since it would initially have no competition ). What is illegal
is to use your monopoly in one area to stifle competition in another.

I'm not saying Microsoft is innocent of doing so ( indeed they have been convicted of such practices
in the past), just that people tend to misunderstand the legislation.

A different good example is that of SAS/Braathens airlines. They're a Scandinavian airline company
that was convicted in European court for monopolistic behaviour with regards to their pricing of tickets.
On line where they had competition they dropped their prices lower than the actual costs of flying, thus
making it impossible for competitors to turn a profit. They financed it by increasing fares on flights where
they had no competition. Since prices can be changed over night, it isn't feasible for competitors to respond
by changing which airports they serve. It's a classic example of abusing your market position in order to
make competition infeasible, without actually providing a better service.

The allegations vs google is that they are abusing their position in the search market in order to drive out
competition in advertising.

Microsoft is probably guilty of similar violations in the OS market ( and have been convicted in the past ) but
the actual market share has nothing to do with this. You could have a 50% market share and be guilty, or a 99%
market share and be perfectly innocent. It's what you actually do with that market share that matters.

Ayn Rand nailed it (0, Flamebait)

SimplyGeek (1969734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448288)

So, the leeches of society, the unproductive yet powerful politicians seek to control and destroy those who are productive, who create something for the public. Where have I seen this before? Oh yes, Ayn Rand.

"Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off."

yeah. ayn rand. (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448340)

the same whore who had railed against social benefits all her life, and then took healthcare and social security when she needed it in later years of her life.

http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/149721/ayn_rand_railed_against_government_benefits,_but_grabbed_social_security_and_medicare_when_she_needed_them/ [alternet.org]

Re:yeah. ayn rand. (2)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448418)

I am of the same mindset. I don't like big government programs - they cost a gigantic pile of money that I could otherwise keep, invest, and retire on later in life. But, since I'm currently being forced to pay into the bureaucratic monster, I might as well get a bit of it back. You know, getting back some of the money that I would have had if I wasn't forced to pay these high taxes.

Re:yeah. ayn rand. (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448424)

TBH I am sort of conflicted on that since she was required to pay into the system, was it not her right to be able to take out the money she paid into it?

Of course it would be nice for some of these people who decry Medicare/SS to forgo the benefits later in life. I guess it's how many Pro-Lifers are one unplanned pregnancy away from being Pro-Choice.

"I am against X, until I have to face the repercussions of that in which I case I am now in favor of it"

Re:yeah. ayn rand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448890)

Hypocrite or what? People pay in a tiny percentage of what they take out. She was taking money that other, younger people put in. All old people do. There is less than 1% of the funds available for what their generation contributed to the funds. They, like all greedy boomers and co, are simply using their "I'm alright Jack, fuck you" lifestyles by using our generation's contributions.

People are happy to hate on social education and medical coverage, but only when they're independently wealthy or have a decent plan from their employer. Once they lose that, they change their mind immediately.

Re:yeah. ayn rand. (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448972)

Obviously its a complex issue, I am simply open to both sides of the argument. Though I agree with your sentiment, people in general not just the Boomers are very "I got mine" about social services. "No socialized healthcare for the poor and infirm, but don't touch my medicare"

Personally I would prefer to manage my own money, let me invest/save for my own future, if I am broke when I'm old I'll have only myself to blame.

Re:yeah. ayn rand. (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448426)

the same leech who

FTFY

Re:Ayn Rand nailed it (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448398)

Right, it was "leeches" who were seeking to control and destroy Microsoft back when they were sued for antitrust violations. Microsoft had the superior product, right? Solaris was years behind Windows NT 4, right?

Please, this is just an investigation, and even if Google is found to be abusing its position the worst that will happen is they will get a slap on the wrists, like Microsoft did.

Re:Ayn Rand nailed it (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448594)

That'd be a neat proposition. But when you're #1 in your field and you use this to unfairly bash in people trying to compete... Then we have a problem.

I mean, Yelp content scraping? [andre.me] Undercutting costs on Android so they can bolster their own ad and search business(iOS is doing fine but what of WebOS, MeeGo and WinPhone 7?).

Sure, it's the unproductive politicians that are the problem. Not monopolists abusing their power. Or as Ayn Rand calls, "A wet dream."

Google will fail soon enough (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448302)

Their search results get worse each year. Way too much spam, placeholder and link-farms are coming out in the top results unless you're looking for something specific in a limited field.

We had search engines before Google came along, we moved to Google because it was vastly superior to what we were using. Now that they're serving a lot of crud, we, the masses, will eventually move to an alternative when someone else moves into the field. Apple are ramping up a massive ad system, maybe they'll move into search?

Google have to move into new fields, as they are more than aware their search dominance is going to slip away.

Re:Google will fail soon enough (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448668)

What makes you think the crud won't be a problem for any competing search engines? If you put a weight on only sites that people have voted up, then you'll end up with valid sites that never get seen, and dodgy companies being paid to vote up the spam sites, etc..

It's the same idea as fighting spam. It will always be a perpetual arms race unless you stick to some kind of whitelist. Gmail just so happens to have better spam filtering than any other service I've used, so excuse me if I'm a little sceptical that anyone else is going to blow them out of the water in search anytime soon.

Who voted for these jokers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448308)

This is yet again another example of how politicians do not "get" technology. They insist that the "internet" is a controllable resource only available to the US. Now if they want to argue Google makes it difficult to get into the Web Search market, that is a different story. Even then the fact that Bing and other search engines exist on the internet provides proof that they are not a monopoly, but a very effective competitor in the market.

"Nice little search engine you got there buddy,... (5, Insightful)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448312)

Be a shame to see anything happen to it..."

.
How you can own a monopoly in an environment where switching to a competitor who offers a better product at zero cost is beyond me but evidently some people in Washington seem to think differently.

Odd that the issue is being raised (yet again) just as Google publicly comes out against SOPA and Protect-IP.

The threat comes from the same politicians who are clueless enough to think they can tinker with the Internet's infrastructure without harming it.

Re:"Nice little search engine you got there buddy, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448796)

Odd that the issue is being raised (yet again) just as Google publicly comes out against SOPA and Protect-IP.

This was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this headline. There is no way I can see this being coincidence. Too well timed.

My ass (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448318)

Illegal monopoly, my ass. Google has done nothing to protect its monopoly, certainly nothing like forcing pretty much every PC maker in the world to use Windows, giving the illusion of no choice in software, and attacking competitors with underhanded tactics to help them maintain a monopoly. Microsoft should have been tried, convicted, and broken up LONG ago but Microsoft became a friend of the government and thus got a pass.

Just because Google does things right,getting where they are thanks to hard work and brand recognition, and that no one else has been able to duplicate their success doesn't make them an *illegal* monopoly. (Remember kids, it's not illegal to simply be a monopoly -- you have to do underhanded garbage like Microsoft has done to be an *illegal* one.) It's just because Google doesn't want to bend over and play the government's games that they're now being wrongfully accused of being one.

What a nightmare we all live in. Sadly, things aren't going to change until our citizens converge on Washington, D.C. armed and demanding to take their government back from the greedy moneyloving fucks that are ruining things for everyone.

AC for very obvious reasons.

Re:My ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448480)

Try to use Android without Google.

That's what monopoly abuse looks like.

Re:My ass (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448746)

It's quite easy actually.

It's actually much easier than the same exercise with Android replaced with an iPhone and Apple.

Re:My ass (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448928)

Except that Google is selling Android as open. Apple is selling it as Apple hardware with Apple services.

And no, it's not "quite easy". It's actually quite difficult, and you lose a ton of functionality.

That's what monopoly abuse looks like.

Re:My ass (1, Interesting)

bkaul01 (619795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448718)

Illegal monopoly, my ass. Google has done nothing to protect its monopoly, ....

How about dumping a smartphone OS on the market for free while ignoring other people's patents, to protect their market share of mobile searches? Or leveraging their search monopoly to try to drive people towards their other products instead of those offered by competitors? I don't know if once the legal battles are all sorted out it'll turn out that they actually did violate any laws, but it's plausible enough that the government would be remiss in its duties if it didn't bother to find out. Just because Google claims to "do no evil" doesn't mean they're not playing exactly the same games that the other major players (e.g. Microsoft, Apple, et al.) do. Maybe they've done nothing wrong, in which case they've got nothing to worry about. Or on the other hand, maybe they are improperly leveraging their search monopoly, in which case the government can and should intervene.

Hahahaah bing (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448326)

the search 'engine' that ranks sites according to what internet explorer users click on OTHER search engine's search results - like google.

Consumers give monopoly position to Google (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448334)

Almost all consumers choose to use Google, instead of other search engines. Almost everybody has tried several other ways to search, but Google simply gives the best results the quickest, and consumers voluntarily choose to ignore the competition. What's the problem?

Oh well, I guess this gives the politicians something to do. Whatever keeps them busy, and doesn't harm the public too much is a good activity for politicians.

Re:Consumers give monopoly position to Google (2)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448486)

Yep. And I think we maybe have the fatty finger of Apple on this investigation request...

Re:Consumers give monopoly position to Google (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448632)

They HAVE something to do. It's called actually balancing the budget, which they seem to be failing pretty comprehensively at. They can't even seem to pass a bill which everyone agrees needs to happen, and might even make the voting public happier with them (ie. payroll tax deduction).

monopoly vs abuse (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448336)

I don't understand why they keep investigating and investigating and just won't finally leave google alone. Are they a monopoly? obviously. Do they abuse their monopoly position? That stone's been turned over more times than the average river rock, and nothing's been found. Why don't they give it a rest already?

I can only assume at this point that the others that wish they were in google's position keep lobbying and prodding and whining for still another investigation, if nothing else than to be a thorn in google's side. Nothing's ever going to come of it, it's just a waste of my tax money.

Funny how companies like AT&T can get snowdrifts of consumer complaints, year after year before finally being investigated (once?) and being found abusive and broken up, and yet I don't hear any consumer complaints about Google, just a few bit companies occasionally crying in their beer, yet Google gets hit with inquiries nonstop like flies on honey. Somebody's got their priorities all mixed up. (or is taking payoffs repeatedly from all the wrong characters)

On the outside maybe (2)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448360)

While I agree Google does appear to be a monopoly on the outside, I don't think it's been abusing it's position and there is an alternative that people can use if they do not want to use Google. After all it's not like Google is saying that they own your computer and you're just leasing it from them.

Sadly the same cannot be said for the Cable provider. Cable Internet from one provider or my choice of Dial Up providers.

It's Not Illegal (4, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448410)

It's not illegal to be a monopoly. It's illegal to abuse that power. So, let's look at the main categories of anti-trust abuse that have been prosecuted in the past:

Limiting Supply - there's no way Google is doing that...

Predatory Pricing - They have always been free, as are the competitors. Then again, could that be classified as predatory I guess...

Price Discrimination - The same as above

Refusal to deal - Not that I've heard of...

Exclusive Dealing - Not that I've heard of either

Product Bundling - This is tricky. Sure, their products integrate. But then again you need to sign up for each one separately. There's no "Use search and automatically get this other product"...

So, either they will need to go out and tread new territory with little legal precedent to lead the way. Not saying it should or shouldn't be done, but just that it's a relatively new area.

Additionally, I really find the line who said that it was 'only fair' that Google put its own sites on higher placements than competitors odd. Let's show a few examples:

Free Email [google.com] - GMail is #5 on the list for me. Yahoo, Mail.com, Hotmail and GMX.com are all above it...

ebooks [google.com] - Google Books is #6 on the list. Ebooks.com, Amazon, Project Gutenberg, Barnes and Noble and Free-ebooks.net are all above it...

Online Calendar [google.com] - Google Calendar is #3 on the list.

US News [google.com] - Google News isn't even on the first page for me (not even in an ad)...

Shopping [google.com] - Google Shopping is #2 behind Shopping.com

Now, searches for News, Gmail, Images, Videos, Maps and other product names return google first. But that sort-of makes sense, since those are the product names...

In fact, searching for Maps and Images on Bing returns Google for the first results! Is it an anti-trust violation to name your products intelligently???

Re:It's Not Illegal (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448572)

Product Bundling - This is tricky. Sure, their products integrate. But then again you need to sign up for each one separately. There's no "Use search and automatically get this other product"..

I guess that depends on your definitions. Simply using search, no, that doesn't come with anything else (other than links to their services and according to the Google executive quote in the summary, deliberately prominent ones). But the second you sign up for an account for any one service you're signed in to all of them. My Google account is Gmail, search, Docs, Calendar, Google+, YouTube, etc.

One could probably also make a case that their monopoly on search and advertising are different and that one drives the other, if one was so inclined. (Put into accusation-speak, that Google is using their search monopoly to create an online advertising monopoly.)

That said, I do agree: I really see little evidence of abuse of any potential monopoly that they have. To the extent that they are a monopoly at all, it seems to be one of merit, being better than the competition, and not one born of competing unfairly. It bears watching but not action, in my opinion.

They probably should be investigated. That is, after all, among the government's jobs. Beyond that I reserve judgments about the merits until I see the conclusions.

Re:It's Not Illegal (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448916)

You're correct - Google does some light bundling with single-sign-on.

However, they go to great efforts to allow their various individual products to be used with software outside of their "bundle".

Look at gmail's robust POP/IMAP support.

Look at Google Calendar's robust support for open calendar formats

In general - look at Google's approach in general to data availability, such as Google Takeout.

Re:It's Not Illegal (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448588)

Not only that, but Google has been pretty friendly about interoperability. Gmail has SMPT and POP/IMAP available for people who prefer to use an email client rather than Google's web interface. Gchat will exchange messages with other Jabber servers (there are a few bugs that still need to be worked out here, although this is better than what, say, Facebook has pulled). Google Docs exports files in open formats.

Google wins because people like them -- they like their search algorithm, they like their web apps, and they do not like what other competitors have been pushing. This investigation will be hard pressed to find any abuses.

Re:It's Not Illegal (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448604)

s/SMPT/SMTP/

Re:It's Not Illegal (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448630)

Google isn't free. Google is an advertising agency that is paid by all its advertisers, for whom others compete.

Those prices could be manipulated by Google to protect its ability to manipulate those prices, by its power of market dominance and other advantages that aren't simply competing. Likewise Google could be using other such advantages that aren't simply competing, to interfere with advertising competition.

And besides, the free searching and other features all support that advertising, which in turn supports the free searching. If other search companies cannot compete because of Google's dominance of either or both ads and searching, that is also anti-competitive.

Monopolies are complex, not just dangerous. That's why an FTC antitrust investigation is more complex than just "what's its market share?" Gaming a market is often a sophisticated racket. Which is bad for consumers, bad for competitors, and bad for the entire market. With Google at the center of so many essential markets, which are the center of so many essential economies, industries and daily lives, we need the FTC ensuring that it's competition, and not some other synthetic advantage, that determines who wins in Google's businesses.

Re:It's Not Illegal (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448850)

That's a very good point. I didn't disagree with the investigation in principle. I was just pointing out that the traditional metrics, and the ones indicated by the post are rather, iffy...

If other search companies cannot compete because of Google's dominance of either or both ads and searching, that is also anti-competitive.

I would just like to point something out here. If other companies can't compete because Google is really good at search, that's not anti-competitive (in fact, it's the exact opposite). So the simple assertion that other companies can't compete isn't enough to bury Google. What they need to prove/find is that Google leveraged its position unfairly to keep competition out. An example of that would be if Google required advertisers to sign an exclusivity deal (or gave incentives to do so) which would then unfairly keep competition out (hint: they haven't, although MS and Apple both do). Another example would be if Google used its dominance in search to promote its other products (by artificially raise their search, or artificially lower competitors), of which my OP is evidence to the contrary.

The key is that other companies not being able to compete does not make Google in violation of anything. It can be just free market pressure that does that (because Google has the "best" product, or whatever reason). But if they are unfairly leveraging their position in one area into other areas, that's where it becomes a dangerous problem...

Re:It's Not Illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448868)

G+ votes altering search ranking is borderline abuse. Sites have to use +1 ones to stay competitive with other results.

Re:It's Not Illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448900)

Kinda funny you go "free email" when "email" puts Google at the top of the list. then "online calendar" instead of "calendar" or "news" instead of "us news". You weren't trying to skew your results were you?

100% a Hit (4, Insightful)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448492)

They are just doing everything they can to beat up Google. To tie it and restrict it and (if all else fails) destroy it. Facts be damned.

Congress' brief relationship with silicon valley has long since ended, and they're doing everything their rusty old selves can manage in order to placate and "secure" America's "#1 Industry".

Too Big to Ignore (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448552)

Any company that gets as big as Google should be investigated for being a monopoly, trust or anchor of a cartel. By "big" I mean both market share and sheer size in either revenue, profit, market cap or assets. Because when a corporation is that big, it probably is distorting the market substantially in those ways. All the other businesses, and of course the people, are paying taxes and expecting as citizens their government protect them from such abuses.

There's plenty of research the FTC could do automatically on any company that gets that big without causing any costs beyond routine compliance processing all its competitors also do. They should, and any substantial evidence of something more serious should automatically trigger a fuller investigation. The government should not have people whose discretion protects favored corporations from these compulsory reviews, who are obviously going to be corrupted by companies too big to stop. They should not get too big to stop before the government starts stopping them.

FWIW every president should have an impeachment committee fired up and researching impeachable offenses starting the day they're elected. These various executives have far too much power to corrupt, delay and stop investigations that are the people's only defense from their crimes.

If they really wanted to investigate monopoly abus (3, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448888)

If they really wanted to investigate monopoly abuse:

Look no further than Ebay / Paypal. That relationship is a rediculous example of monopoly abuse. Ebay cornered the market for online auctions and then forced paypal on to everyone.

Where have I heard this before? (1)

rnturn (11092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448926)

"They also ask the FTC to consider what Google could do with the Android mobile operating system, and suggest that although it does not now, the firm could force hardware makers that use Android to set its search engine as the default."

Oh wait... we haven't heard this before. Where was the letter from senators complaining that Microsoft could do these same kind of things?

I haven't checked yet but does anyone know whether senators Kolb and Lee have received sizable bribes^Wcampaign contributions from Microsoft, their friends, lobbyists, or industry groups that have Microsoft as a major supporter? (I'm guessing that they have.)

Wat. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38448944)

The Senators are also warning that Google is only facing one real competitor (PDF), Microsoft's Bing.

That's like saying the only competition Country Time Lemonade has is that kid selling lemonade on the street corner, which may or may not have come from a bottle of Country Time Lemonade to begin with.

How much would you bet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448960)

...this is being instigated by the same people behind ACTA/SOPA? The same people that have certain senators frothing at the mouth when it comes to Google?

Big Content strikes again. I wonder if it's going to take twenty years before the old fogies in charge finally retire and someone steps up to the plate and realizes that YES, search engines profit off of advertising while people look for other people's content and NO, that isn't unethical or illegal. Google Search is an indexing service with a lineage that traces back to the days of directories and web rings! It's a monopoly just as much as Facebook is in the social arena -- people use it because it works and works better than its competitors (oh Bing, you're serious, let me laugh even harder).

Glad to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38448970)

The senators have solved the Economy crisis.

Oh wait they havent? Then what the hell are these idiots doing working on ANYTHING ELSE but the economy?

The Senate and House of Represenatives are full of drooling morons.

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