Google chairman Eric Schmidt is set to testify on antitrust at a Senate subcommittee hearing Sept. 21.
According to reports and the schedule of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Google's power will be under the microscope. The hearing schedule lists the subject as: "The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?"
Schmidt is likely to talk about search competition---Google argues it's about much more than Bing---and maintain it is serving the consumer well. The appearance comes as the Federal Trade Commission is examining Google's operations. It's unclear whether the FTC will launch any formal charges. These investigations can take years before anything solid is launched.
Meanwhile, the FTC hasn't formally flagged any issues with Google.
- A few topics that will likely be front and center:
- Google's search results and ranking system and whether it favors owned and operated sites.
- Ad search systems and transparency.
- Terms of Adsense agreements.
Those items will also be intertwined with a lot of showboating. In many of these hearings, legislators are mugging for the cameras at home and hoping for a "gotcha" moment. Ultimately any antitrust action will have to determine whether Google is a public utility.