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Google’s Anti-Competitive Rap Sheet Warrants Prosecution Not Leniency – An Open Letter to European Commissioners
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2014-04-30 21:51
Dear European Commission Official,
Would Interpol, or any EU prosecutor, ever recommend pursuing a lenient settlement with their overall #1 worst offender -- without extracting any punishment, restitution, admission of wrongdoing, or deterrent effect -- rather than prosecuting the worst offender to the full extent of the law?
Would any other prosecutor publicly threaten swift prosecution against a high-profile defendant repeatedly and then give the defendant three chances to settle over a period of several months when the defendant’s first two proposed remedies proved to be demonstrablydeceptive in market tests?
Of course not! That would be antithetical to the fair, honest, and effective administration of justice.
Then why, after its own investigation found Google to be dominant, and to have abused its dominance in four distinct ways, is DGComp strongly advocating that Google be protected from prosecution for clear violations of EU competition law?
Google owns: the world’s-worst anti-competitive rap sheet; a proven pattern of obstructing law enforcement investigations; and a clear history of violating settlement agreements.
Please carefully consider the evidence below from official and mainstream sources.
The evidence Google is the world’s-worst anti-competitive company.
To begin, Google’s scale, scope and reach are unprecedented. It is the only company in the world to control five Internet platforms with a ~billion-users: Google Search, YouTube, Android, Google Maps, and Chrome browser. In addition, Google controls the world’s dominant digital advertising platform. This unprecedented EU and global dominance affords Google unmatched potential and incentive for anti-competitive behavior.
Google’s Anti-Competitive Rap Sheet catalogues Google’s commission of 14 distinct types of competition law violations in four different countries and the EU -- spanning every single year from 2008 to 2014, save for 2012.
Moreover, Google has been, or is currently, under investigation by competition authorities on five continents, in 12 countries and the EU, for violating their competition laws.
Furthermore, Google’s global anti-competitive acts have occurred in over ten markets: e.g. search, advertising, manufacturing, shopping, travel, mobile, software, mapping, publishers, books, and tech industry employment.
Google is a uniquely large and bad anti-competitive global actor. No other company in the world has a global anti-competitive rap sheet as pervasive and recidivist as Google’s.
Any experienced prosecutor knows that hard-core offenders and recidivists warrant full prosecution under the law, not effective political pardons or exceptional enforcement leniency that provides no effective deterrence.
The evidence Google has a pattern of obstructing law enforcement investigations.
In 2014, the Competition Commission of India fined Google $166k for obstructing its investigation of anti-competitive search behavior by withholding information. In 2012, the South Korea Federal Trade Commission was considering the maximum penalty for Google’s systematic obstruction of its investigation into Google’s search practices.
In the U.S. in 2012, the Texas Attorney General had to ask a Federal Court to compel Google to provide legally required discovery in the investigation of Google’s alleged anti-competitive search practices, after Google promised to cooperate with the Texas AG investigation. Also in 2012, the FCC fined Google for deliberately obstructing the FCC’s investigation of whether Google Street View’s secret collection of home WiFi communications was illegal wiretapping.
This is not a track record that warrants pursuing settlement in lieu of prosecution under EU law.
The evidence Google has a poor and defiant settlement record.
In 2013, Google systematically violated the DOJ-Google criminal Non-Prosecution Agreement by failing to prevent further illegal activity and by providing false, incomplete, and misleading representations of compliance -- much like Google provided deceptive and misleading settlement proposals to DGComp in 2013 as well.
Why would DGComp think their settlement experience with Google would be different?
In conclusion, Google’s 90% search and search advertising dominance is illegal under EU law as are Google’s four abuses of its dominance.
The copious evidence provided above shows that Google: is the world’s worst anti-competitive company; has a proven pattern of obstructing law enforcement investigations; and has a poor and defiant settlement record to date.
What part of Google’s public record of behavior warrants being given near-infinite benefit-of-the-doubt from DGComp?
Most any other prosecutor in the EU would consider the cumulative evidence of Google’s anti-competitive behavior, obstruction of Justice, defiance of past settlements, and abuse of the current settlement process, and have no hesitation prosecuting Google.
With the law and evidence on their side, why is DGComp afraid to stand up to America’s worst corporate bully?
President, Precursor LLC, a research consultancy for Fortune 500 clients, some of which are Google competitors
McLean Virginia, USA
Google’s Anti-Competitive Rap Sheet – May 2014 -- here
Past Open Letters to European Commissioners on Google
Open Letter to European Commissioners to Reject Google Settlement Proposal [2-16-14]
The Growing EC-Google Settlement Scandal – An Open Letter to European Commissioners [3-31-14]