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Conflict of Interest
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2012-12-17 22:08
Please sing to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
On the twelfth day of Christmas the FTC gave to me:
Twelve winkers winking
Eleven fibbers fibbing
Ten bluffs a bluffing
Nine Google's poodles
Eight flacks a flacking
Seven fawns a fawning
No enforce-ment! ...
Three big passes
Troubling Irregularities Mount in FTC Commissioners' Handling of Google Antitrust Investigation -- Part 14 Google Unaccountability SeriesSubmitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2012-12-17 00:25
The mounting number of unprecedented, inexplicable, and troubling irregularities in the FTC's cumulative law enforcement record of Google warrants oversight by Congress and renewed vigilance by other law enforcement officials -- State Attorneys General, the DOJ, and the European Commission -- in order to maintain the integrity and deterrent value of the antitrust law enforcement process.
Each of the following sets of facts and circumstances in the FTC's law enforcement experience with Google have raised eyebrows, together there is head-shaking cumulative evidence that reeks of either special treatment for Google or political interference by Google in the process.
Consider the following evidence to judge for yourself if something appears amiss here.
Only Google has been able to get FTC commissioners to twice politically overrule staff recommendations to prosecute after in-depth antitrust investigations, in approving Google-AdMob despite "serious concerns," and in rushing to close the current Google search bias investigation without seeking the most incriminating evidence available.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2012-12-10 16:33
Please don't miss my new Op-ed for The Hill here, entitled "Courts, Not FTC, Should Decide On Google Practices."
Simply, why shouldn't a court of law, based on the law, due process and the facts be the entity to ultimately decide if Google is guilty or innocent of deceptive search bias, not the FTC?
Oversight Questions for FTC's Handling of Google Antitrust Probe -- Part 12 Google Unaccountability SeriesSubmitted by Scott Cleland on Fri, 2012-11-30 11:55
The number and seriousness of irregularities, deficiencies, and unanswered questions in the FTC's antitrust investigation of Google's alleged search bias warrant oversight by the Senate and House Antitrust Subcommittees and investigative reporting by the media.
Why FTC Can't Responsibly End the Google Search Bias Antitrust Investigation -- Part 11 Google Unaccountability SeriesSubmitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-11-27 17:41
Press reports indicate that some at the FTC may be questioning if there is sufficient evidence to prove in court the search bias charges recommended by FTC prosecutors. What the media surprisingly has yet to report is that the FTC still has not yet gained access to the thousands of known and likely most-incriminating Google emails and documents that Google has withheld from antitrust investigators -- per the Texas Attorney General's petition to a Federal Court last June.
Intimations that there is no search bias case to prosecute when Google clearly has stonewalled and not fully cooperated with antitrust investigators impugns the integrity of the FTC law enforcement process. These intimations also suggest that Google thinks that its case will be not be decided on the law, merits and evidence, but on political pressure it can bring to bear on the prosecution decision or settlement process.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Sun, 2012-11-25 19:06
Despite reports questioning the evidence of consumer harm in the FTC antitrust investigation of Google, it's obviously there if the FTC chooses to charge Google under its Section 5 authority which prohibits "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." The legal threshold for proving consumer harm under Section 5 versus the Sherman Act is dramatically easier for the FTC prosecution to meet. Thus press reports about Google consumer harm are implicitly more about the furious debate over which law(s) to use than it is about the provability of consumer harm.
A main argument the FTC made to win the turf battle over which antitrust agency would lead the Google antitrust investigation, the DOJ or FTC, was that the FTC had Section 5 authority, in addition to the Sherman Act anti-monopolization authority that the DOJ and FTC both share. Unlike antitrust precedent from the Sherman Act, which guides that consumer harm should outweigh any offsetting innovation or consumer benefits, Congress in Section 5 declared deceiving consumers is illegal harm of consumers.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2012-11-12 11:44
David Carr's (NYT) excellent analysis of how the mainstream media missed the truth behind cycling legend Lance Armstrong's systematic cheating and deception -- that ultimately led to the International Cycling Union stripping him of his seven Tour de France titles, to Nike dropping him as a sponsor, and to his resignation as Chairman of his cancer-survivor foundation LIveStrong -- got me thinking about the many sad parallels there are with how the mainstream media and blogosphere have missed the truth behind tech legend Google's systematic cheating and deception.
Just like the mainstream and sports media had much self-interest and fear in challenging Mr. Armstrong's representations, i.e. the loss of advertising and reporter access to top people in the sport, the mainstream media and tech blogosphere also have much self-interest and fear in challenging Google's representations, because Google is the overwhelming source of Internet traffic for the media (via Google Search, News, YouTube, and Android), and is also the primary monetization mechanism for the blogosphere.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-10-30 11:15
Google's Global Privacy Counsel, Peter Fleischer, cheered Singapore in his blog for passing a "modern privacy law" as a way of denouncing the EU's "out of date" privacy law and its recent threat to enforce it against Google.
Fully exhibiting a couple of the most common Google PR traits, a lack of self-awareness and an instinct for political polarization, Mr. Fleischer effectively lectured the world that it should emulate the privacy lawmaking of a hybrid-authoritarian regime, Singapore, as he denounced and belittled the privacy lawmaking of European democracies. How Orwellian this is, to praise the politically authoritarian treatment of the Singaporean people as "modern," and to denounce the democratic concern for the individual liberties of EU citizens as "bizarre" and "out of date."
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Thu, 2012-10-25 03:13
Please don't miss slide 4: "Google's Monopoly Power = Unique Global Privacy Problem: Unfathomable Scale, Scope and Centralization of Private Info." It provides the latest eye-popping stats on Google's rapidly spreading dominance into video, mobile and social.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-10-23 11:02
Google remains its own worst enemy in trying to resolve EU antitrust charges.
In early 2012, when Google was trying to convince EU antitrust authorities that enforcement action against Google's search practices -- preferring its own content in search ranking over competitors -- would only harm consumers and was unnecessary because competition was but "a click away" for consumers, Google announced it would consolidate 60 privacy policies without user permission or user choice to opt-out, and then did it a month later, over the EU's strong objections.
This was a flagrant strategic mistake because: first the EU prides itself for strong consumer privacy laws and privacy protections; second the EU fully-understands that consumers' privacy is the de facto currency that Google uses to propel its monopoly; and third Google's primary antitrust defense is that they are the ones that are best looking out for consumers interests and that consumers have plenty of choice.