Google prepares for antitrust hearing on Wednesday

By Lee Kaelin on September 19, 2011, 10:00 AM

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt will go before an antitrust Senate panel on Wednesday to testify against claims that the company is unfairly using its dominance to thwart competition, and thus is harming consumers.

Since May, the search giant has hired at least 13 different lobbying and communication companies in response to the US Federal Trade Commission ramping up its investigation. It hopes public figures such as ex-House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt and the son of Senator Richard Lugar on its side will help them when they face a grilling on Wednesday.

The company is also making good use of adverts to show the public how important the services they offer are for small businesses, as well as highlighting the job opportunities they create. They argue that they are trying to offer users the best-cultivated search responses to their queries.

Schmidt has managed to get agreement from the Senate panel to face them alone, with those opposing him having chance to air concerns after he has testified at the hearing.  Executives representing Expedia and Yelp are expected to testify after Schmidt, both of which accuse Google of favoring its own products over theirs.

Having the spotlight will no doubt help Schmidt compose himself during the hearing, avoiding a repeat of the bashing Bill Gates received from competitors during his Microsoft antitrust hearing back in the nineties.

Antitrust hearings are always risky though, as Google's top executive could easily find himself on the wrong side of the committee if he words his responses incorrectly. He will also be hard pressed to argue the companies dominance of the global search market, in which his corporation has a two-thirds share.

Late last week, the EU Competition Commission also said they plan to investigate Google over complaints that it is abusing its position as the dominate provider of search results for European web users.




User Comments: 9

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SammyJames said:

The Senate is still held by the Democrats (believe it or not). But the media will play up on Republican dominance in matters such as this one. What Google executves fail to understand is that we live in an interconnected world. Many of the technologies that they rely on were either not developed by anyone even employed by Google, or have existed for at least twenty years.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Google is unfairly using their money, power, and influence to shape the Internet. It also wouldn't surprise me to see them walk away scott-free. Although I like the Google search engine, I'm not real jazzed about most of Google's other ventures.

I really wish that the people could just retake what belongs to us.

Guest said:

You wanna know what hurts competition? Squelching entrepeneurism. You want to know what squelches entrepeneurism? Knowing that the government will tell you how to run things when you become successful.

MilwaukeeMike said:

sammyjames said:

I really wish that the people could just retake what belongs to us.

And what is that exactly?

Do you think Google is any different from MS, Apple, Amazon, or any other major company? They all have teams of lawyers and teams of lobbyists helping them bend the laws as far as they can without getting sued by a competitor. Anti-trust litigation is a cost of doing business at that level, on both sides of the isle.

The only true monopoly is the govt. If you dont' like google, try Bing. Dont' like the iPhone, try Andriod. Don't like the service at the DMV... well... sorry. You're gonna pay your convenience fee and like it.

SammyJames said:

What it is that BELONGS to us?!

Maybe all of that research money that got pumped into universities from 1960 until about 1991 or so. That belongs to us. WE paid for that with our tax dollars.

Google wouldn't exist if Al Gore hadn't pushed congress to look into ARPANet, and how to turn it into a public-use technology. So screw all of you right-wing conservatives.

Don't believe Wikipedia? Check the sources.

[link]

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

sammyjames said:

Google wouldn't exist if Al Gore hadn't pushed congress to look into ARPANet, and how to turn it into a public-use technology. So screw all of you right-wing conservatives.

Repeat a meme long enough and people will come to believe it.

aj_the_kidd said:

sammyjames said:

Maybe all of that research money that got pumped into universities from 1960 until about 1991 or so. That belongs to us. WE paid for that with our tax dollars.

... and I appreciate what Google and other companies around the world have been able to do with said research and how much free services and content companies like Google have provided US, all of US.

Guest said:

YEAH! And don't forget that Al Gore also created the algorithm!

Guest said:

To sammyjames:

Man you will believe anything Al Gore says! I am sure if he told you crap was fudge you would eat it too.

Why don't you do a little research? Maybe try Google, you know what that is, right?

caravel said:

The problem here is software patents. As it allows any huge corporation with enough financial backing to pull a patent or several for a mere "idea" about software, not for an actual program, out of their arsenal and hit a smaller company or rival with it in an expensive legal process that the smaller operators cannot afford. This is what is currently giving the big players such as MS, Apple, Oracle and Google the power to create software monopolies.

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