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What an Anti-Google Antitrust Case By the FTC May Look Like 167

Posted by timothy
from the follow-the-competitors'-blueprint dept.
hessian writes "It's not certain that Google will face a federal antitrust lawsuit by year's end. But if that happens, it seems likely to follow an outline sketched by Thomas Barnett, a Washington, D.C., lawyer on the payroll of Google's competitors. Barnett laid out his arguments during a presentation here last night: Google is unfairly prioritizing its own services such as flight search over those offered by rivals such as Expedia, and it's unfairly incorporating reviews from Yelp without asking for permission. 'They systematically reinforce their dominance in search and search advertising,' Barnett said during a debate on search engines and antitrust organized by the Federalist Society. 'Google's case ought to have been brought a year or two ago.'"
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What an Anti-Google Antitrust Case By the FTC May Look Like

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  • Re:Sour Grapes (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @06:02PM (#41771349)

    That's the textbook definition of anti-trust behavior: Using your dominance in one market (search) to give yourself an unfair advantage in another market (travel agency, clog dancing, etc.)

    Also, it's really fucking illegal.

  • Re:Hold on. (Score:5, Informative)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @06:05PM (#41771367)

    Are they guilty of anti-trust issues if the algorithms put their results first, not due to manipulation, but due to popularity?

    Not exactly. The entire premise of Google originally was to put results at the top that had the most links to pages which matched keywords and phrases the user entered. But as people started gaming the system by adding links to their site in forums like Slashdot, Reddit, etc., spamming the web to inflate their index rating, Google had to start tweaking the algorithms and making manual changes to attempt to exclude such attempts. In the process of doing this, the manual ranking of certain websites based on other factors (like traffic rankings on Alexis, etc.), became very complicated. In an attempt to monetize their search results as well as provide a way for monied interests to promote their websites without spamming the indexes, they introduced sponsored links, then google ad words, etc. But the spam continues, and so Google finally opted to manually tweak rankings of many vendors, including their own, to put them on the first 10 results consistently.

    So yes, they are manipulating the results, but then... every search engine has to thanks to spammers trying to inflate their ranking.

  • Re:Sour Grapes (Score:4, Informative)

    by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @06:37PM (#41771653)

    Because they are leveraging their monopoly to unfairly compete with similar services (as it clearly states in the summary).

  • Re:Still Free (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:25PM (#41772591)

    Oh, yes, pre-loading the browser is a great idea. Did you know that one of the biggest things microsoft got in trouble for was forcing companies to not allow them to bundle other browsers with computers they sold?

    If you sold a PC with windows, you could not ship it with Netscape

    You're either a kid, or are suffering from selective amnesia.

    Personally, I worked for a small ISP during the bad old days. I remember quite vividly how microsoft strong-armed IE's marketshare in to existance.

  • Re:Still Free (Score:5, Informative)

    by GoogleShill (2732413) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:37PM (#41773121)

    It's funny how quickly people forget history. It wasn't just that they bundled a browser; it went something like this:

    - Netscape creates what becomes the standard internet browser and publicly states that they believe it will make the desktop OS irrelevant. MS is afraid of this. Netscape was freely downloadable, but they nagged you to pay them $25 or so to license it.
    - MS creates IE, and charges for it, but no one buys it because it sucked.
    - MS, still wanting browser market share, starts giving away IE for free. People continue to use Netscape.
    - MS bundles IE with Windows and forbids OEMs from adding an alternative browser. Some people switch to IE because it saves them the download step.
    - MS creates Front Page, a WYSIWYG HTML editor which was bundled with Office, the already dominant office suite.
    - MS creates IIS and ASP, technologies which only worked on Windows.
    - With Java applets gaining popularity, MS makes applets created with Visual Studio only runnable on Windows.
    - MS starts adding features to Front Page which make the generated HTML non standards-compliant, only viewable by IE and only servable by IIS.
    - MS add features to Word to allow it to export to HTML which could only be viewed in IE.
    - MS adds ActiveX control integration, making IE the only browser which supports it.
    - MS muscles ISPs like Earthlink to place ActiveX controls on their main web pages so that they are only viewable by Windows machines running IE.
    - People start switching to IE because Netscape doesn't render Front Page pages properly, so they think IE is a better browser.
    - Netscape can't make any money and folds, opening the source to their browser, blaming MS's antitrust behavior for their demise.
    - Netscape source code is picked up by the community, but can't support things like ActiveX due to wanting cross-platform feature parity.
    - With Netscape dead and IE5/6 being used by nearly every web surfer on the planet, MS stops development on it, hindering web innovation.

    As you can see, MS did a very good job of making sure that the web was only viewable by machines running IE on Windows and servable only by NT machines running IIS. That is what the antitrust suit was about, browser integration was just one key point in the whole mess.

    That was just the browser side of things, they were also found guilty of using private, unpublished Windows APIs in Office so that it was impossible for a 3rd party software developer to compete at the same level as MS. This was why the original ruling was to split MS into an OS company and a software company.

    Read http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f3800/msjudgex.htm [justice.gov] for full details.

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