Google has found itself at the centre of multiple government investigations into whether it is using its dominance in search advertising to scotch competition.
At least three state attorney generals have started antitrust investigations into Google, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday.
The source declined to elaborate on the details of the investigations by the attorneys general of California, Ohio and New York as they were still in the early stages.
The attorneys general investigation into Google was first reported by the Financial Times , citing people familiar with the investigations.
The news of the attorneys general investigation emerged on the same day the Wall Street Journal reported that the internet search giant is about to receive the civil equivalent of a subpoena from the US Federal Trade Commission as part of a probe into the company's Internet search business.
The company has been accused by competitors of favouring its own services over rivals in its search results.
Google and the FTC declined to comment on the Journal report.
The FTC plans to send the civil investigative demand with a request for more information, the civil equivalent of a subpoena, within five days, according to the report.
US antitrust regulators have been concerned about Google's dominance of the web search industry, and it has been under investigation by the European Commission since last November.
Complaints has been filed with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic, many from Google rivals who specialise in vertical searches like price comparison websites, which are widely seen as a threat to Google's position as a key gateway to online information.
Google has been in a stock slump. The company's shares began the year a touch above $600, but are now below $500. Google shares closed at $480.2 yesterday on the Nasdaq.
Google has weathered other antitrust setbacks. The company walked away from a search deal with Yahoo in 2008 when the Justice Department signaled it was prepared to challenge it.
A New York judge has said that a deal Google had made with publishers and authors to create a massive digital library was illegal, partially because it effectively gave Google the rights to books that are in copyright but whose authors cannot be found.
What started out as a clever algorithm to bring more useful information to web searchers, has become a bully, so it seems.
I think my alternate Google acronym is more true than ever:
Gigantic Omnipotent Online Gatekeeper of Literally Everything
It is kind of funny.
Google's pretty much the opposite of the sort of government instilled monopolies we've had. Not like AT&T back in the day when there were real legal barriers to entry int the field... and not like power companies or broadcasters where government regulations are used to concentrate power and keep others out.
No, google did it by being better. More people liked it and it grew. People chose freely, and they chose what worked. I used them before anyone I knew had ever heard of them. I personally got a couple dozen people using them because it just worked better.
There's plenty of other things since people might be upset about, but the monopoly aspect in their case really is one of doing a BETTER job on a fair playing field... at least up until the point that they started negotiating with foreign governments for new territories and the like.
Funny that they should eventually become a bigger target than companies whose monopolies were actually designed as such by government forces.
The whole thing's getting a bit creepy about info stored on everyone, though. More and more, things that are being touted as new features (not just of Google, but I'm including them) strike me more as warning flags. It's like credit files. Most people don't even realize they will never be allowed to look at their entire files. They are shown only a small portion, yet all of it is for sale.
If people really understood what big business it is for Facebook to sell all their data, I wonder if they'd still be as popular?
Even though Google is very dominant and some of the actions questionable, they still provide me with great search results every day. The AdWords is getting costly though now.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I know that there are other search eengines that exist, but the only ones I have ever heard about being discussed are Google and Yahoo.
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