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Consumer group calls for Google breakup

Watchdog barking
Thu Apr 22 2010, 11:31

A US CONSUMER GROUP has penned a letter to the US Attorney General calling for Google to be broken up.

John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog urged him to begin a broad antitrust action against Google. He said that the outfit uses anticompetitive practices and monopolistic position in Internet search in ways that harm potential competitors and consumers.

Simpson pointed out that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have taken a reactive approach to Google's activities. However his organisation was a little more pro-active and has taken Google to the cleaners over the proposed Google Books settlement.

Simpson said that the time has come to actively restrain Google's broad ability to abuse both users and advertisers. Such action could include breaking Google into multiple separate companies or regulating it as a public utility.

He said that with 70 per cent of the US market for Internet search, Google is the gateway to the Internet. How it tweaks its proprietary search algorithms can ensure a business's success or doom it to failure.

"Google's business practices to maximize its profits determine much of the Internet experience for most consumers by determining what they view," Simpson said.

He accused Google of manipulating search algorithms, engaging in conduct that trims its auctions or otherwise denies competitive alternatives, and said that users plainly are harmed because they will not even have the opportunity to experience such alternatives.

The letter suggests that the Department of Justice could break up Google into different companies devoted to different lines of business. Search could be separated from advertising. Gmail and its new social networking service, Buzz, could be spun off as a separate entity as could Youtube. Enterprise applications could be another separate business.

"Arguably Google's monopoly position and importance to the Internet means that the company should be regarded as a public utility and regulated," the letter concluded. µ

 

 

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