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My WSJ Letter to the Editor -- Google and Microsoft Antitrust Cases are Different

Kudos to the WSJ for publishing my Letter to the Editor challenging the central assumption of the WSJ editorial questioning antitrust action against Google because consumers benefit from Google's free search. My letter pointed out a false assumption begets a false analogy and an incorrect conclusion.

The text of my letter follows:

"The conclusions of The Competition Versus Google editorial rest on the false market assumption that Google search users are customers when they are not.  Consumers using Google search pay Google nothing. Consumers are the product Google sells to advertisers and publishers. This false market assumption begets a false market analogy between the Google and Microsoft antitrust cases, because unlike Google, Microsoft's consumers were also Microsoft’s customers. Free market competition and antitrust law excel at serving customers’ market interests, which may or may not be consumers' interests. Incorrectly conflating these different interests confuses the real market forces and problems at work here."


 

Google-EU Antitrust: Ten Conclusions

This week the EU issued a formal antitrust ultimatum to Google: recommend acceptable remedies or face prosecution for abusing monopoly power. This action has sweeping ramifications and enables one to make several educated conclusions.


I. Ten Conclusions Summary

1. EU has called Google's bluff on being cooperative.

2. Google is busted.

3. "Preferential treatment" is 99% of this EU-Google fight.

4. "Preferential treatment" is Google's business strategy.

5. As a self-declared publisher, Google competes with the web.

Google Has No Free Speech Right to Break the Law

Google's latest claimed antitrust get-out-of-jail-free-card is that Google is effectively immune from antitrust prosecution because it has a constitutional free speech right to free speech to rank and present its search results any way it wants, per a new Google-sponsored white paper by UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh. This effort is much more of a political argument and PR wish than a legal or antitrust argument, because neither the right to free speech nor any other right in the Constitution's Bill of Rights confers immunity from the rule of law foundation on which the rest of the U.S. Constitution rests. There are many reasons to be skeptical of Google's blanket claims of antitrust immunity via its free speech rights.

First, anybody that considers the many forms of illegal speech that are unprotected by the First Amendment: perjury, libel, slander, misrepresentation, lying under oath, fraud, deceptive practices, falsifying documents, collusion, conspiracy, impersonating a police officer, stealing, vandalism, graffiti, inciting a riot, etc., will take Google's imagined blanket immunity from antitrust laws on free speech grounds with a grain of salt. Google exaggerates its "free speech" rights to protection from antitrust, just like it exaggerates its "fair use" rights to take others' property without permission.

Top Ten Untrue Google Stories

The FCC's Google Street View wiretapping investigation proved that Google's public representations it was just a mistake one rogue engineer -- that the FTC and foreign law enforcement relied upon to close their investigations -- were untrue. Going forward, law enforcement must remember the old adage: "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

I. Top Ten List of Untrue Google stories

Consumer Groups' Advocacy Hypocrisy

Consumer groups by definition are supposed to be protecting consumers' interests -- not be pushing a special interest political agenda under the guise of the "public interest." Let's spotlight a recent and blatant hypocrisy whereby consumer groups near-completely ignored an instance of obvious widespread consumer harm (the FCC's proposed fine of Google for obstructing its Street View wiretapping investigation), while in another contemporaneous issue, consumer groups gang-pummeled a non-issue to push a political Internet commons agenda (strongly objecting to Comcast's new market offering where XBox usage does not apply to a user's 250 Gig monthly data cap.)

Google Street View Wiretapping: Why is Google obstructing a Federal wiretapping investigation affecting the privacy of literally tens of millions of American households' -- not a consumer protection issue? How come consumer groups routinely and loudly call for FCC investigations of broadband companies' legal marketplace actions, but are silent on the obvious obstruction of a Federal investigation into Google allegedly being involved in potentially the largest wiretapping and mass invasion of citizens' privacy by a corporation in U.S. history? How is it in consumers' interest for the government to not be able to determine if Google actually violated Federal law or not?

Google's Rap Sheet

Compare Google's law enforcement record here with Google's public representations below to determine for yourself if they match up.

  • "We're a law abiding company." Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, June 28, 2011, in The Daily Mail.
  • "Google respects the law. We do not steal." Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, December 16, 2011, in the French paper Libération.
  • "We have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love." Google CEO Larry Page, in his 2012 Update from the CEO.
  • Google's Corporate Credo: "Don't be evil. ...This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company." per Larry Page and Sergey Brin in Google's Founders IPO letter in 2004.

 

Google's PR Strategy in Advance of the EU's Monopoly Charges -- A Satire

Confidential Memorandum:

To: All 11,342 Google PR/Spokespeople

From: Brandi Sparkles, Google PR Chief & Googlerati Whisperer

Subject: PR Statement/Strategy in Advance of EU's Monopoly Charges

We expect the European Union's antitrust authority to issue a Statement of Objections against Google shortly, which will charge Google with being a monopoly that anti-competitively ranks its own content #1 while ranking its competitors' content where few will find them.

So you can help rally the Googlerati in the media to Google's side and organize a chorus of Google adoration among the masses to make this problem blow over, we are sharing an advance copy of our public statement for public dissemination and also a copy of our confidential PR strategy for this event so you can be in the know, but remember this PR strategy is not for public distribution.

I. GooglePRBlog

Posted 4-20-12 by Brandi Sparkles, Google PR Chief

Why Google Thinks It is Above the Law

Google often acts as if it thinks it is above the law. That may be the most plausible explanation for why Google is under antitrust investigation on five continents, has had 35+ privacy scandals, and has been sued for eight different kinds of infringement/theft from most every content industry.

I. Cover-ups

FreePress' Latest Net Neutrality Folly -- Pushing for Shareholder Votes

FreePress' latest net neutrality folly and political agitation is pushing the SEC to make shareholders from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint vote on inappropriate, ill-advised, and unwarranted proposed shareholder resolutions in favor of wireless net neutrality in the weeks ahead.

Let me count the ways this is a waste of time and abuse of process.

First, it inappropriately and destructively attempts to politicize non-political entities, by trying to force a public political position from non-political corporate entities, whose contractual and fiduciary responsibility to shareholders is to economically/financially grow the value and profitability of the corporation.

Second, the appropriate place to have political votes is in legitimate political processes, elections or representative votes or decisions by elected officials at the appropriate local, state, and Federal level, which enjoy the constitutional, political, and relevant authority and legitimacy to decide political issues in a meaningful, substantive and productive way.

Third, the operative authority here for shareholders, the companies' shareholder agreements, corporate charter, and bylaws, are legally grounded on a contractual agreement between the company and shareholder to protect and grow the shareholders investment in the company, not to promote extra-political positions that actually could endanger the underlying purpose of the shareholders agreements.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths