Google faces further antitrust woes in the US

Google faces further antitrust woes in the US

Summary: The US Federal Trade Commission is preparing to investigate Google over anti-competitive practices regarding its online advertising business, according to Bloomberg.

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TOPICS: Google, Government, Legal
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Google is in hot water with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) again for allegedly using its online advertising dominance to stave off competition in a new antitrust probe.

The US FTC had just wrapped up a review of the tech giant's search engine business in January. At the end of the 20-month review, the FTC told Google that it had to make a number of changes to its search engine business practices. This was viewed by some of Google's competitors as a slap on the wrist.

According to Bloomberg, the new inquiry is in its early stages, and will look at whether Google used its online advertising clout to pressure companies into taking on more of its other services. This would be in violation of the US' antitrust laws.

Google has been facing antitrust scrutiny across the world over its search engine practices, with Europe, South Korea, and Argentina all having probed the company over anticompetitive behaviour, including manipulating its search engine results to stymie its competitors.

Canada will be on the list soon, with the country's Competition Bureau gearing up to launch a formal inquiry.

Topics: Google, Government, Legal

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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24 comments
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  • FTC should leave Google alone

    Much as I dislike Google, this is another glaring example of why the anti-trust laws need to be repealed. Google built the best search engine and marketed it to dominance. People are free to use whatever search engine they want. They choose Google. Whatever advantages Google's market share gives them, Google is entitled to. Perfect competition theory that is taught in our schools is invalid. Competition includes the possibility that one company will win 100% of the business. If Google is not putting guns to people's heads to force people to do things against their will, the government has no business whatsoever interfering with them. The anti-trust laws are non-objective and effectively ex post facto. They have no place in any country that claims to be free.
    FDanconia
    • @ FDanconia

      Too many anti-trust complaints from SMB customers, big brand customers, consumers, competitors and others.

      Fact is Internet network model was built to allow multiple overlay networks - multiple carriers, multiple host types, multiple server types, multiple content types, multiple services.

      What Google is facing is in reality an innovation problem. The same problem that Microsoft faced on its 17th anniversary. That is - industry and competitors and markets innovate faster than you due to arrival of new technologies.

      Google may have entered mobile faster than others but even it was not prepared to adapt to the lackluster rate of advertising sales on mobile. And so it resorts to forcing customers and consumers its other bundled services. And this repeats again and again. In desktop search advertising, in mobile search advertising, in mobile display advertising, in mobile video etc.

      This will only stop when FTC and Justice department and EU and China/Korea/India/Brazil collectively sue Google and put consumers out of misery.

      And if you don't go away from Google when it is going down, then you will go down with it.

      I would advise you to stay away in any from (employment, partner, sales etc) Google since this ship will go down in the next few years. It is inevitable. This is Microsoft all over again from 1995.
      calahan
      • Final point?

        This is MS all over again? What the MS that no longer exists or the MS that's still going strong in their core business and is still trying to branch out to new markets, admittedly without overriding success? Yeah I'd hate to own MS now that's it's worthless and just fraction of it's original size.
        Little Old Man
    • It's Not About Market Share

      It's how you behave when you dominate a market.

      When you use your dominant position to hurt others or use unfair business tactics, then these laws become necessary.

      A free economy will not function with unchecked monopolistic activities.

      Microsoft deserved it, and they got off relatively easy.

      Google NEEDS to be knocked down a peg or two. They are getting out of control.
      Patrickgood1
      • What specifically are you complaining about?

        You're completely right that anti-trust laws are about abuse of monopolistic power, not having monopolistic power. But I'm not following what particular abuse of power you're complaining about.
        ChickenLiver
        • I Assume You Are Referring to Google's Abuses

          If so, the abuse is, as stated in the article, the "manipulating its search engine results".
          Patrickgood1
          • Search results

            If Google wants to return only links to Google services in their search results, that is their absolute right. Anyone who doesn't like the way Google displays search results is free to use another search platform or build their own.
            FDanconia
          • It's fine when not a monopoly

            but if it creates a monopoly position then it seems it can be retrospectively reviewed and punished.
            You're right in what you say, until google got so big as to be a monopoly. At that point, what was previously acceptable (because they weren't a monopoly) is now attracting the ire of, well, everyone and their robotic dog.
            Little Old Man
          • Your Point Would Be Valid If

            They had they grown their market share without deception and their abuse remained constant over the years.

            It's not until a company reaches the point of be monopolistic can they get away with blatant disregard.

            What is happening with Google now, they keep stretching the envelope as to what users find acceptable.

            You may not care what Google is doing. Most people tend to be apathetic. Fortunately not all people are apathetic. Their are many being injured due to Google practices. And there are people fighting Google in the courts to stop their abusive practices.

            Most people will even doubt anyone is being injured. would that be your position??? I re3ceive a fair amount of Flags when I post an objection of Google Policies.

            So No One Gets Hurt, No Harm, No Foul. Is that your position?????

            Need an example? Maybe you missed one huge news story where Google took down one of the most powerful persons in the World. No exaggeration.

            Whether Google did it by way of their weak privacy policy, whether it was an intentional act by a Google Employee, or the result of a Google project that targets prominent Google users for intelligence gathering. It does not matter. They hurt some one that may not have be hurt except for Google.

            When CIA Director Petraeus' Gmail message was discovered by the FBI one may take the position that especially as the Director of the CIA he should have known better than to transmit an email message without encryption with an expectation of privacy.

            Would that be your position??

            Well you would be wrong.

            Petraeus did not transmit a Gmail message he used the Drafts folder (I do not know if this is correct Gmail terminology, I do NOT use Gmail) and his Mistress would log on to his account and read the Draft message.

            Whatever Petraeus is an intelligent adult that should have known better, and is a scumbag for cheating on his wife and putting national security at risk (that Gmail message, if discovered by foreign intelligence would have made some spy's career).

            What about those that do not understand how the US Government is recording Internet and Phone communications. Or what about the apathetic that even though recording of their communications is common public knowledge, do not know their conversations are being recorded and translated from voice to text, and data mined? Some one needs to protect the rights of these unfortunate souls. (If you do not know about the US recording projects Google these two terms: "NSA Stingray" and "NSA AT&T")

            Age of consent for the Internet in the US is 13. The reason laws treat someone under the age of 21 differently is because the is not fully developed in normal people until around the age 21.

            Have you ever as a minor done something (caught or not) or know a good person that can be glad today that incident did not go on their permanent record?

            The world is very complex. You may take the position that you are an honest, hard working, good citizen and therefore have noting to fear. You may sleep better thinking that way but there are many sleeping in a prison cell that formerly thought that way.

            Why should some care? Why do organizations like the ACLU exist? Many of them were victims or know victims of constitutional abuse. Like myself.

            I posted public records on a website of a wealthy guy (about $100 Million net worth). He was violent (aggravated battery), wife beater (domestic violence), and drunk, (repeat DUI offender).

            Because he has more money than brains he had his Law Firm send me a cease and desist notice. I was give 7 days to take down the site, in violation of my 1st Amendment Rights. If I did not take it down he would sue me. I took down the site and he still sued me.

            Styles v. Young Florida 17th District.

            He did not reserve any rights to sue me in the letter. Furthermore I am protected by Florida Statue 770.01 which says prior to filing a suit a five day notice of intention to sue is required. That was not filed.

            Even though I had two very strong defenses to have the case dismissed, estoppel (sued after say he would not) and the 770.01 notice.

            His Law Firm is probably the top rated Law Firm in the State of Florida, a nationally ranked firm, Shutts & Bowen. They were very good. They were able to bamboozle the judge with pre-Internet case law on 770.01, and the Judge did not understand estoppel. She had been very recently transfer from criminal to the civil bench. She was a criminal attorney before becoming a judge.

            I did prevail over Shutts & Bowen, they dropped out of the suit after my deposition and they learned the facts. They have a reputation to protect. The plaintiff then hired a shyster attorney that practiced city zoning law. While this attorney is incompetent she is still a pain in the ass.

            The reason I am so familiar with Google's Privacy and Terms of Service, it was a Google Search Alert that that lead to the cease and desist. That OK, Google was not doing anything wrong. There were many times in this suit where Google came in to the picture. Did I submit the site to be indexed?

            When Google came in to the picture the Plaintiff would try to use information from Google in an attempt to discredit me. If they could find a lie, it would be detrimental to my case. I was at the mercy of Google to get it correct. I have no way of inspecting my personal Google records.

            NOTE: Google is more apt to turn over your records when they are named in the suit. Judges are more likely to sign an order when a Plaintiff requests a Defendants records regarding a co-defendant. And Google just wants out of the suit and will easily agree to give up your records in return for being released from the suit. The right thing to do (i.e. 4th Amendment) is not part of Google's decision process.

            I, (Patrick D. Young dob 6/25/55) was arrested September 21th, 2010 for resisting arrest without violence in Coral Springs FL. I was however arrested with violence.

            As I was standing on my property observing an accident with injuries. They had been sawing the vehicle apart for about 20 minutes and making a lot of noise. I went out to see why it was taking them so long.

            A cop walked over and told me to go back in my house. I took out my iPhone and began recording the encounter. After about 15 minutes of arguing the 4th Amendment with this very stupid cop (King). I knew he was so agitated he was about to burst. I pondered allowing him to arrest me to prove my point. I did not like the idea of waiting to be bailed out. In Broward County FL, that can take more than 24 hours. And you do not want to be there long enough where you get so hungry you have to eat the food. And I would not be able to take my medication which was already over due.

            I put up my hands in defeat and acquiesced to go in my house. I as I turned my back the cop tackled me, hand cuffed me, and took my iPhone and deleted the recording.

            During the next 6+ months after about 6 court appearances I was offered a deal. The best deal short of dropping charges. They could not drop charges because the cops lied.

            They testified I was standing in the road on the skid marks amongst the accident debris and was interfering with their investigation. Not even close to the truth. And I could prove it. #1 there were no skid marks, the car hit the tree without ever applying the brakes.

            The DA offered to withhold adjudication, no fine, no court costs, no probation. Essentially I could walk out of the courtroom and the case would be over.

            Sure I'd have a record for resisting arrest. Except that is something am proud to have on my record. So I do the only thing my principles would allow me to do.

            The trial was April 7th 2011. The cops testified, telling unbelievable tales. Even I could not believe the courageousness of the length they would go to convict an innocent person.

            I have been the defendant in many court cases. Only in one other case did a cop not lie. The other cop in that same case, got caught lying on the stand.

            Before being able to present my defense, the Judge declared me not guilty and said "This man should never have been arrested".

            I really wanted to sue the city. Sometimes life gets in the way of doing the right thing. About 6 weeks ofter my acquittal May 20th my father died. On the day of my fathers funeral my best friend died. The following September my mother began Cancer treatment. While being treated she was diagnosed with the onset of Alzheimer. In February 2011 my mother died. Somewhere during those events, I can not remember when, my dog died.

            In Florida Municipalities have two year statute of limitations on civil matters.


            I believe I have demonstrated I am not opposed to Google on the privacy of MY private data. You have my Name and Date of birth. With that you can get a lot more information about me.

            As an anonymous poster here, there are some credibility issues. I gave you my date of birth and middle initial so you can use the Broward County 17th Circuit public records to verify my story.


            ****************************************
            It is NOT MY privacy I am trying to protect when I berate Google it is YOURS.
            ***************************************
            Patrickgood1
          • @FDanconia, You are an Ignorant Bastard

            Just because you do not understand the complexities you should not spread your ignorant philosophies.
            Patrickgood1
          • Yes They Can Return Whatever They Desire As Long As...

            as long as Google does not infringe on my rights or violate the laws that protect me.

            That is not the case described in this blog.
            Patrickgood1
        • No objective difference

          There are no objective criteria for distinguishing between "having" monopoly power and "abusing" monopoly power. So there is no way to know before you take an action whether it might be deemed abusing your monopoly power. This is what makes the antitrust laws subjective and ex post facto, and therefore invalid.
          FDanconia
          • 'ex Post Facto'????

            Aaaaah, I think the use is totally incorrect - besides, the point istaken from the business' being injured by the Google practice - not the consumer. The consumer is less interested in where search results for a particulatr company than the company itself which depends on Google to represent themselves fairly. You have an interesting 1950's, eighth grade view of economics and market forces - which were the basis for the crash of 2008....
            earljgray
          • @earljgray You Are Too Kind to @FDanconia

            When you said "1950's, eighth grade view of economics and market forces"

            I know you meant well, except:

            You are insulting eighth graders.
            Patrickgood1
          • Again @FDanconia, You Are an Ignorant Bastard

            You say: "This is what makes the antitrust laws subjective and ex post facto, and therefore invalid"

            You do not understand why anti-trust laws exist. They exist for your protection.

            I rest my case.
            Patrickgood1
      • Monopolistic activities *are* checked in a free economy

        The freedom of any company to enter any market they choose is all the check on "monopolistic" activities that a free economy needs. As long as there are no *legal* barriers to entry, a free economy is fine. And if companies that win large market share suddenly lose control of their business, the economy is not free.
        FDanconia
        • Again and Again @FDanconia, You Are An Ignorant Bastard

          While I understand the world is not fair. Anti-Trust Laws exist in an attempt to keep the playing field (free market) level.
          Patrickgood1
          • Oh My, I've Been Flagged

            I see everyone of my recent posts here, at the time of this post have one Flag. While on the other hand every post by @FDanconia has one Vote.

            Who could it be that flagged me?

            An Ignorant Bastard?

            I bit too transparent.
            Patrickgood1
    • I agree!

      the commies are taking over USA, and the lame competition is helping it.
      LlNUX Geek
  • About time Google were brought to task!!

    Although Google have the right to set up their search engine how they feel fit, being almost a monopoly means they just have too much power. They have caused misery for hundreds of thousands of small businesses with changes to their search algorithms in recent years. Although they say they are "cleaning up the Internet of SPAM" , a useful biproduct of this is to force small businesses to use their ADWORDS ad campaigns. It is criminal what they are doing. The ball has started rolling and Google are in for a rough ride, and not before time!!
    david.christie@...