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FTC To Recommend Antitrust Case Against Google 195

NeutronCowboy writes with news that a majority of top staff members from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have become convinced that Google "illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals." The FTC is now drafting a memo that recommends the U.S. government begin an antitrust case against Google. "The agency’s central focus is whether Google manipulates search results to favor its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page. ... The memo is still being edited and changes could be made, but these are mostly fine-tuning and will not alter the broad conclusions reached after an inquiry that began more than a year ago, said these people, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified. ... The FTC staff memo does not mean that the government will sue Google for antitrust violations. Next, the vote of three of the five FTC commissioners would be required. And each step is a further prod for Google to make concessions to reach a settlement before going to court. Last month, Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, said a final decision on whether to sue Google would be made before the end of this year.
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FTC To Recommend Antitrust Case Against Google

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  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JobyOne ( 1578377 ) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @09:42AM (#41641013) Homepage Journal

    I'm inclined to agree with you.

    I'm as entrenched as anyone could possibly be in the Google ecosystem, and it's not because they're force-feeding me their products. I frequently try alternatives when comes to stuff like online calendars, documents, email, whatever.

    The reason my attempts to use other services never stick is simple: they're just not as good as Google's offerings.

    I can kind of see where they're coming from if Google is in fact promoting their own services in their search, but I suspect that their own algorithms are picking out their own services because the most people use and talk about them...again because they're just the best offering.

    Personally it's tough to sell me on the idea of a provider of free web services getting into antitrust territory, because a different search engine is always one different URL away. The same goes for all their other services. It's tough to even call them out on vendor lock-in, because thanks to the data liberation front they're one of the best companies I've ever seen on the internet when it comes to avoiding lock-in.

    I'm dubious.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boaworm ( 180781 ) <boaworm@gmail.com> on Saturday October 13, 2012 @09:43AM (#41641017) Homepage Journal

    No but they sell ads. And people want to put their ads where people will see them. So it isn't much of a stretch to claim that they sell search.

    They also sell sponsored results in their search results.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @11:02AM (#41641467)

    To me, it looks like the lobbying by various competitors (hi, Microsoft, Expedia!) has finally paid off. There is no stickyness to Google services, outside of their quality. Switching is a click away, especially when it comes to search and maps. The complaints I've read? Nothing but sour grapes that Google didn't completely shaft their UI and search algorithm, just so that every competitor has the same or better page position (note that I didn't say search position) as any Google service listed on any of Google's pages.

    If this goes through, it's the end of search algorithms: if someone is upset they aren't high-placed on the dominant search engine du jour (and there will ALWAYS be one), they can just sue for extra income.

    Let me rephrase that: it will be the end of search engines in the US. China, I'm sure, will be happy to supply quality search engines that give a big middle finger to shenanigans like these.

  • Re:What? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:22PM (#41643325)

    They end up promoting things that they have a lot of data about (there was a realtime search that searched twitter, it was awesome. Twitter ended the agreement and it went away). Facebook and twitter have thrown fits and actively blocked googlebot from their sites for a lot of things, and even if they didn't, that site (www.facebook.com/ladygaga) when I fetch it with wget returns a crapton of javascript (referring to 'bootloader' and stuff like that) and no actual information - to index the visible content of the page, google would likely have to run a web browser and execute the javascript (and this assumes that the javascript doesn't pull stuff from the sites blocked to Googlebot by robots.txt). I don't think they tend to do that.. Curl won't even grab it.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351