Published on October 21st, 2012 | by Steven Hodson


Google Could Be Facing A Double Barreled Monopoly Probe

With at least one member of the US Congress, Jared Polis, campaigning against it Google could soon be facing not only a monopoly probe from the European Union but also at home as the FTC ponders whether or not the company should be investigated for monopoly abuses.

In either case though the answer isn’t a simple one as advocates on both sides of the argument agree that there is no real clear cut proof of Google using its market position in search, advertising, and now the mobile space as a “weapon” against its competitors.

There are some like Rob Enderle, a Silicon Valley consultant and analyst who believe that Google has become more like Microsoft of the ’90s – massively arrogant and having the feeling that they can do anything they want. Some of the other ways that it is suggested that Google ‘might manipulate’ the marketplace to their benefit is through their dominance in web advertising and that they also promote their own services over competitors in their search results.

The problem as seen by those arguing against the FTC probe is that this would be definite uncharted legal territory and could lead to government deciding what is fair and unfair when it comes to how the web is used to provide information. Glenn Manishin is an antitrust lawyer who represented the plaintiffs in the famous Microsoft antitrust case and it is his believe that the case, if any, against Google is far different that the charges brought against Microsoft.

“There’s a fundamental difference between an operating system which has the ability and technology to exclude rivals from the platform, and Internet search or search advertising,” he said.

“There’s nothing locking users into using Google either for search or for advertising… it’s not a single highway to get to where you’re going. Windows was, because it was on 95 percent of PCs. Other companies can and do enter the search market.”

Manishin said antitrust law is aimed at protecting consumers, not rival companies. He said the FTC could pursue Google administratively for “unfair competition,” but added legal standards are vague and the agency has never won such a case.





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About the Author

Steven has been around the tech world long enough to see most of the stuff we think of cool happen before which leads to a certain bit of cynicism that has contributed to him being known as the cranky old fart of the Internet. Besides sharing some of the goodness that he finds with you here at 42x you can also find him curating some digital goodness at Winextra (tech type stuff) and Rotten Gumdrops (for your daily dose of WTF).

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