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Antitrust

More evidence Google's not neutral... and seeks to be the supreme arbiter of "truth" on the Internet

Google again has blocked search advertising that promotes political views that Google does not share.

  • On the morning of the FCC's net neutrality vote last week, Bret Glass of ExtremeTech.com tried to advertise his white paper, that advocated a light regulatory touch, on Google Adwords only to find that Google blocked his ad as not meeting their "guidelines." (See Mr. Glass' full recounting of this non-neutral content blocking incident at the end of this post.) 
    • This is not the first time Google has blocked content that did not comport with Google's political/policy agenda. For example, Google blocked anti-Moveon.org ads proposed by a U.S. Senator's campaign.

The "relevance" of this evidence of net neutrality violations by Google, to the FCC's just-proposed net neutrality regulations, is that the FCC's clearly stated purposes are: to prevent companies with market power from infringing on free speech and to ensure that those with market power are transparent about their market practices that affect the free flow of information. 

Google-Twitter search agreement delayed for DOJ antitrust review?

Microsoft publicly announced it has already launched a beta of bing Twitter that incorporates Twitter tweets into Microsoft's search results, while Google also announced an agreement with Twitter, but said in an announcement blog post that: "we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months."

The glaring question is why Google, which prides itself on speed and innovation, and which routinely launches new products and services in beta, will not offer a Twitter product for "months."

The most logical conclusion is what I blogged and tweeted about on October 9th: "Will Google seek DOJ approval of any Twitter agreement?"

Will FCC Exempt Googleopoly from Anti-Competitive Behavior Enforcement?

The litmus test of whether the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules are really endeavoring to prevent anti-competitive behavior on the Internet (and not about turning private broadband networks into a public utility), will be whether the rules apply to all Internet competitors, which could be anti-competitive, like the existing consensus FCC Broadband Policy Statement already does. 

  • If reports prove correct, the FCC will propose to remove the existing FCC net neutrality principle #4 that "consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers and content providers," and that new net neutrality regulations apply only to broadband ISPs.
    • Such a change would be new anti-competition policy and completely contrary to existing U.S. pro-competition law/policy, and FCC precedents.
    • Such a change would also not be neutral or fair, but arbitrary and capricious.

Why an FCC Googleopoly exemption from Net neutrality would be transparently capricious.

First, there is more evidence of violations against net neutrality by one company, Google, in one year, than there is evidence against the entire broadband sector over the last five years! 

Goobris Alert: "We want to be Santa Claus"

I kid you not. Google's latest antitrust defense, from the mouth of Dana Wagner, Google's lead antitrust lawyer, is: "We want to be Santa Claus. We want to make lots of toys that people like playing with. But if you don't want to play with our toys, you've got us."

  • See the quote for yourself at the very end of a Globe and Mail article entitled: "Google: we're not evil and we're not a monopoly either."
    • Google's Mr. Wagner continues: “In a West Coast company run by engineers, I don't think there was much attention paid to being in Ottawa, being in D.C. and telling your story,” Mr. Wagner says. “If you don't tell your story, other people do it for you.

Let me attempt to unpack the irony of this new story/metaphor of which Google has taken ownership. 

Most companies when they tell their corporate "story" try to "put their best foot forward," but no one but Google would think to try and slip jolly megalomaniacal corpulence down the narrow chimney of public credibility.  

Only Google would have so little real-world self-awareness as to choose to wrap itself in the beloved mythical role of Santa Claus who has the unique power to decide who has been good or "evil" during the last year, and the unique power to reward those who have been "good" in Google's eyes with toys and punish those who have been "evil" with coal in their stocking. 

Only Google would think it was good PR to allude to Google's secret search algorithms and auction "quality scores" as a worldwide "naughty and nice" list.

Advertising Agencies Urge DOJ to Approve Microsoft-Yahoo Search Agreement

In stark contrast to their opposition to the Google-Yahoo ad agreement, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4As) is now urging the DOJ to quickly approve the Microsoft-Yahoo search agreement because they "believe that Yahoo! and Microsoft's proposal to combine their technologies and search platforms is good for advertisers, marketing services agencies, web publishers, and consumers."

  • This letter is powerful evidence that the advertising industry remains deeply concerned about Google's dominance of search advertising, and welcomes the prospect of a more viable search advertising competitive alternative -- i.e. the proposed Microsoft-Yahoo's search agreement.

Google Buying Akamai? GooglesNet Replacing Internet? A closed dark fiber shadow of an Open Internet?

The much under-appreciated trend is how rapidly much of the Internet is effectively being supplanted by "GooglesNet," given that Google's data-centers uniquely and constantly capture and store current copies of the Internet's roughly trillion web-pages. GooglesNet is not transparent and is increasingly becoming a closed dark fiber shadow of the "Open Internet."

Will Google seek DOJ approval of any Twitter agreement?

Reuters reports that Twitter is in talks with Google and Microsoft about "licensing its data feed to the companies search engines."

If a Google-Twitter agreement materializes, surely the DOJ will want to review any proposed Google-Twitter agreement for antitrust issues.

FCC's concluding market power in the wrong place; See great ACI analysis: Broadband vs Internet profits

Given that the apparent justification for new formal net neutrality rules is that fifteen-year policy has failed and that the market is unable to ensure consumer choice, the FCC will need to justify with facts that broadband providers indeed have market power to exercise anti-competitively.

Kudos to Larry Darby of the American Consumer Institute for his excellent and illuminating comparative financial analysis of the market power and profits of broadband companies vs. Internet companies. From his post

Google's Bottleneck Control over Digital Info Distribution -- The problem explained in a 1-page chart

Google's increasing bottleneck control over digital info distribution is currently the leading threat to Internet competition and user's competitive access to the information of their choice. While many generally appreciate Google's growing Internet dominance, they want to better understand how Google increasingly dominates the distribution of digital information.

  • To explain this Google anti-competitive problem succinctly and visually, I have produced a one-page chart PDF that shows how distribution competition for digital information -- that supplies digital information to Internet consumers -- is being squeezed between Google's search advertising monopoly selling power on one side and Google's wholesale info access monopsony buying power on the other -- creating growing info-opoly control over digital information by Google.

The antitrust problems that emerge from this increasing monopoly/monopsony Google bottleneck control are two-fold:

  • It anti-competitively forecloses competition among digital info distributors; and
  • It anti-competitively lessens the quality, integrity and diversity of digital information for consumers.

Most have not appreciated the full scope of Google's increasing bottleneck control over digital information, because they did not understand how Google's wholesale dominance of both the "selling" of information via advertising and the "buying" of information via indexing makes Google the world's dominant broker of information.

10 questions for those questioning if competition policy works

Both the FCC and FTC Chairmen appear to be suggesting that the current fifteen-year competition policy experiment in law to promote competition and reduce regulation in communications will ultimately fail -- requiring new preemptive common-carrier-like nondiscrimination regulation of ISPs to preserve a free and open Internet.     

  • In his September 21st speech, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's first reason justifying the need for preemptive new FCC net neutrality regulations was limited ISP competition:
    • "One reason has to do with limited competition among service providers. As American consumers make the shift from dial-up to broadband, their choice of providers has narrowed substantially. I don’t intend that remark as a policy conclusion or criticism -- it is simply a fact about today’s marketplace that we must acknowledge and incorporate into our policymaking." 
  • FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, in a 10-4-09 letter to the editor of the Washington Post in response to the Post's editorial, "The FCC's Heavy Hand," said:

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths