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FTC-Google

Department of Justice, State Attorneys General Must Press To End Search Bias

The Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with Google fails to end its most anticompetitive practice, Consumer Watchdog said today and the public interest group called on the Department of Justice and state attorneys general to press forward to end the Internet giant’s monopolistic behavior in search results.

“Google clearly skews search results to favor its own products and services while portraying the results as unbiased. That undermines competition and hurts consumers,” said John M. Simpson, director of the group’s Privacy Project. “The FTC rolled over for Google.  They’ve accepted Google executives’ promises that they will change two practices without even requiring a consent agreement, but Google has a track record of broken promises.  Don’t forget, this fall the FTC fined Google $22.5 million for violating its most recent consent agreement. Why would the FTC take Google at its word?”

The new Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, William J. Baer, should make Google’s abuse of search a top priority, Consumer Watchdog said.

The FTC’s settlement does require a consent agreement regarding so-called Standards Essential Patents held by Google’s Motorola subsidiary.  Google is now required to license these patents to any company on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” terms – known as FRAND terms.

“This will help ensure competition in the manufacture of smartphones and tablets,” said Simpson, “but that was never the heart of the issue. Biased search and Google’s favoring its own properties do real consumer harm. Google is the gateway to the Internet for most people. When Google rigs the game, we all suffer. They need to be stopped.”

Consumer Watchdog expressed concern that FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who is expected to step down from the commission soon, may have rushed to finish the investigation so it could be concluded under his chairmanship.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group noted that Google’s monopolistic business practices are under investigation by a number of state attorneys general including Texas, California, New York and Ohio. European Union competition officials are also investigating Google.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My response: Meh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader

    It doesn't take me long to get past Google's results - if I ever want to. But frankly, if I get Google Maps results, or Google's directory service, or whatever - they're good results, and if I was on an iPhone or a Windows Phone or a PC with the default Internet Explorer setup I'd get the same treatment from those respective manufacturers.

    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

    by Phoenix Rising on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 12:36:18 PM PST

  •  Curious - what kind of bias are they accused of? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 12:46:20 PM PST

  •  Yahoo! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 05:51:15 PM PST

  •  Link to the search biases that Google (0+ / 0-)

    has placed in its engine code, please?

    It's possible that Google is simply highly adept at search engine optimization for their OWN engine.  That would be akin to Microsoft knowing intimately how to program Office and other products for their Windows platform, IMHO (as opposed to having hidden APIs that only their products are enabled to use).

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 06:53:48 PM PST

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