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Conflict of Interest
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2012-06-13 08:56
ICANN is revealing the biggest expansion of top level domains ever.
Given Google is being investigated for antitrust violations on four continents for anti-competitively favoring its own content over competitors' content, and for monopolizing search advertising, the dominant monetization engine for Internet content, learning Google's strategic plans for how Internet content potentially could be reorganized going forward could be... revealing to say the least.
Will Google seek more names than others and why?
Will Google seek to control new domains that could be used to better compete against Google... in other words to create new barriers to entry to competing with its monopoly scale?
Are there anti-competitive conflicts of interest for Google representing itself as an unbiased search engine and owning the registry for entire new domains that cover immense swaths of future content?
Will Google have a new anti-competitive incentive to rank higher content that resides in one of its owned domain spaces over domain spaces owned by their competitors?
Does Google have any secret plans to monitor traffic in these new domain spaces like they had in secretly monitoring WiFi communications of tens of millions of homes in 33 countries around the world without authorization?
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-06-12 11:49
In Google's own words...
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2012-06-06 09:52
6 June 2012
Dear Joaquín Almunia,
Thank you for your May 21 letter sharing your Google antitrust concerns, and for your offer of discussions to avoid "adversarial proceedings."
In this dispute among equals, we would like to counter with Google's concerns about your antitrust investigation.
First, no matter how many times we explain our business or how slowly we talk, your investigators can't seem to grasp the expanse of our algorithmic genius or the fact that our engineers are higher life forms not bound by the laws of man or nature. Going forward we will only talk to fellow gifted engineers.
Second, the velocity of Google's innovation and the fast-moving nature of these markets mean antitrust authorities can't keep up with us. By the time the EU figures out that we have monopolized one market, we will have monopolized many more. Surrender while you still can. Resistance is futile. Get over it.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Mon, 2012-06-04 12:15
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2012-05-30 09:18
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."
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2012-05-23 11:43
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.
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.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-05-15 11:51
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.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-05-08 11:34
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
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-05-01 10:28
Google's poor and defiant track record in respecting government agreements and settlements is likely one of the reasons the FTC hired an undefeated former Federal prosecutor and litigator to lead their Google antitrust probe and potential litigation against Google. The EU and the FTC are naturally exceptionally skeptical about negotiating an antitrust settlement with Google, given the substantial evidence that shows Google is consistently less-than-trustworthy in abiding by its agreements with Governments.
Specifically, the evidence shows that Google has not abided by either of its privacy agreements with the FTC concerning Street-View WiSpy or Google-Buzz, nor has Google fully-abided by its criminal Non-Prosecution-Agreement with the DOJ concerning its advertising of illegal prescription drug imports. In addition, Google attempted to broadly game the justice system in negotiating a Google Book Settlement that would have rewarded it with a partial monopoly for its mass copyright infringement.
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2012-04-25 15:52
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?