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Consumer Watchdog asks the FTC to block Google's acquisition of Frommer

Says it makes no sense to approve the deal
Tue Aug 14 2012, 11:55
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INTERNET SERVICES GIANT Google has announced plans to acquire travel brand Frommer for an undisclosed amount in a deal that has already come under fire from Consumer Watchdog.

While the move seems like a good one for Google as it tries to add more content to its local reviews business, it has already come under attack from the Consumer Watchdog, which is calling on the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the acquisition.

"There is a fundamental conflict between being a search provider and a content provider," said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director.

"As Google has increased its content and services, it has unfairly favoured them in its search results and damaged competitors. It makes absolutely no sense to approve this deal."

"They were just fined a record $22.5 million by the FTC for violating a consent degree and hacking around privacy settings on Iphones, Ipads and Apple computers," said Simpson. "They were lying to consumers about what they were doing."

"What's important is that it is blocked."

The Fairsearch.org group, whose members include Trip Advisor, Expedia, Kayak and Microsoft, also issued a statement in which it "encourages government officials to look closely at its ability to use its dominance in search and search advertising to steer users away from competitors in order to keep users on Google's own pages longer, and the potentially devastating effects that could have on the online economy".

Google issued a statement to The INQUIRER, seemingly ignoring the fact that the buyout could come under FTC scrutiny. A spokesperson said, "The Frommer's team and the quality and scope of their content will be a great addition to the Zagat team.

"We can't wait to start working with them on our goal to provide a review for every relevant place in the world."

Just yesterday Consumer Watchdog also called for an investigation of Google's driverless car scheme, saying they should not be driven on US highways. µ

 

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