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Antitrust Chief: Google is a Monopolist Threat

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 18 comments

Apparently President Obama’s Antitrust Chief sees internet giant Google as an monopolistic threat. Picking our jaws up off of the floor for just a moment, let’s take a look at what Christine A. Varney had to say.

According to Gizmodo, Varney said Microsoft was “so last century” and “not the problem,” when it comes to anti-trust issues. Last June, Varney spoke during a panel discussion sponsored by the American Antitrust Institute about Google and its business practices. While she praised the “terrific work” done by the Mountain View company and the lawful way it built up its monopoly she wasn’t all rainbows on the topic.

 "[The U.S. economy will] continually see a problem — potentially with Google [because it already] has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising," Gizmodo quotes Varney as saying. “[Google is] quickly gathering market power in what I would call an online computing environment in the clouds. When all our enterprises move to computing in the clouds and there is a single firm that is offering a comprehensive solution, you are going to see the same repeat of Microsoft," she added.

Google narrowly escaped antitrust proceedings in what was supposed to be an advertising deal with search competitor, Yahoo!. The two companies apparently spent significant time drawing up the deal; and when initial concerns were raised by the U.S. Department of Justice, Google delayed the deal by three months to give the government time to conduct its inquiry.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said last September that the deal was designed in such a way to meet government standards, however the company announced that continuing the effort was not in the best interests of Google or its users in November. News later emerged that the two companies decided to ditch the deal soon after after Department of Justice officials informed them of its plans to file an antitrust complaint. A complete turn around on the “we’ll go ahead no matter what the Department of Justice says,” attitude upheld during the months of investigation.

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  • 0 Hide
    matt2k , February 24, 2009 12:21 PM
    haha, computing in the clouds. What a lofty scheme.
    and yes, i know it means cloud computing, i just like the wording.

  • -2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 24, 2009 12:38 PM
    I'm glad someone smart actually thinks the same I do about Google.
    I respect the impressive accomplishments of the company, but can't completely ignore the obvious threat they've accomplished to become.
    But in a way Google has become as important as gasoline! While I couldn't get to work without gas, I couldn't do my work without google. They're that effective. Respect.
    But good someone is looking at the flip side of the coin as well. Regular consumers might not want to.
  • 5 Hide
    matt2k , February 24, 2009 12:45 PM
    Fair enough, but google software is all free and they in no way purposely make it incompatible with other software available.
    They also most certainly dont try and edge out any competition, the only reason they're so big is because they're efficient.
    Also, no one forces anybody to use only google made stuff. People do it voluntarily.

  • Display all 18 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    squatchman , February 24, 2009 1:22 PM
    It's not the search engine, GMail, or Google docs that people are worried about Matt. Even google doesn't worry about those projects, they exist as ways for the company to spend money and nothing more. The powers-that-be are worried that Google will edge out competitors in advertising. Even the article says that much.

    Google makes Microsoft look like Gandhi, their product is the manipulation of consumers.
  • 1 Hide
    crom , February 24, 2009 1:51 PM
    Google is making sky computers!
  • 1 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , February 24, 2009 2:07 PM
    squatchman Google makes Microsoft look like Gandhi, their product is the manipulation of consumers.

    Settle down, boy. Google is nowhere near as bad as Microsoft was in their heyday of monopolistic practices. MSN and Yahoo! also have competitive internet advertising.
    That said, I'm disappointed with some of the tacks Google is taking lately. The stealth-install of the Updater, for example.
  • 2 Hide
    nekatreven , February 24, 2009 2:38 PM
    I for one am worried about GMail and Google docs as much as anything else.

    "What a great idea! Lets give Google a copy of every corporate document we've ever produced! Wait! Hell! Throw in all our email too!"

    You do know that most of the ads in Docs and GMail are based on your data, right? For people that use their services frequently, Google knows everything you look for online, every word in your emails, all of your documents... this 'Google Location' stuff? Yea, now they know where you are too. Google checkout?: Everything you buy. Google Calendar, get the picture.

    The list goes on and on and on. Even for people that don't use them that much...if you could see the data they (probably) have on you you'd shit yourself.

    Then, after all of can just start to consider all of the top end data centers and dedicated fiber they've bought up over the years. They own basically the most advanced consumer satellite imaging system on the planet. Now google andriod is in your phone...

    HOWEVER. They seem to have been trust-worthy with all of this so far. I use their search and checkout services myself. One of their core values has always been that you don't have to be evil to make money, and good lord I hope they keep that slogan.
  • 0 Hide
    afrobacon , February 24, 2009 2:48 PM
    I've always been a huge google fan, but recently I'm noticing some ads that are becoming more annoying then anything; the in-video youtube ads for example. It's still no where near as bad as the toolbar.

    I respect google for all they've done. Their products are for the most part free and usually better then a majority of the competition. If their going monopolize in one market to further innovation in others I'm all for it.
  • 3 Hide
    jhansonxi , February 24, 2009 3:28 PM
    nekatrevenI for one am worried about GMail and Google docs as much as anything else."What a great idea! Lets give Google a copy of every corporate document we've ever produced! Wait! Hell! Throw in all our email too!"
    Unless you are encrypting your e-mail and documents then any ISP you use has the same access to your data.
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , February 24, 2009 4:36 PM
    I agree with the ads in YouTube video, we're already bombarded with so many Google ads, do we need MORE in a video? It's purely annoying to have to click close every single time.
  • -2 Hide
    jsloan , February 24, 2009 4:41 PM
    yes, google is evil. trying to take over the world (internet). think big brother.
  • 0 Hide
    virtualban , February 24, 2009 5:04 PM
    Obama is a fan of technology, so I hope he will go after the iPhone first, and after the mobile market in general, ISP and other providers that use the monopolistic behaviour in a much worse way for the consumer.
  • 1 Hide
    virtualban , February 24, 2009 5:07 PM
    Oh, and I hate Google updater too. It is just as bad as any other updater out there. And that's a bad thing for in Google I used to trust (somewhat).
  • 2 Hide
    carpe_mofo , February 24, 2009 5:52 PM
    Google isn't forcing consumers to use it's service, you can type in or just as easily as you I don't consider it a monopoly if everyone simply uses it because it's the best which it is. I want them to do something about ISP's monitoring traffic to catch pirates, in my opinion, pirating or no, it's a huge invasion of privacy.
  • 0 Hide
    danimal_the_animal , February 24, 2009 6:25 PM
    google is the BEST search engine out their....tired of presidents and others VOICING their opinion...."i think you should do this" or "you must do this"
    the need to shut the fuck up and shove it up their dick!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 24, 2009 7:07 PM
    While, it is good to look forward... projecting a monopoly and trying to do something based on projections opens up a whole can of worms (who is responsible for the projections? how accurate are they? Can they be influenced by lobbyists? Is it a non-partican/independent process?).

    I have no problem with the gov't taking on actions on existing monopoly issues, but I do have problems with the gov't attempting to engineer a solution to something it **thinks** might eventually be a problem. While this sounds quite good in theory, the potential for unintended consequences, corruption and just plain bad decisions outweighs the potential good that might occur. That and there will be no actual accountable and data-driven way to measure the success/failure of what is being done by the gov't. (which of course is no different than today)

    I'm starting to get scared by the attitude of the new administration toward social/societal engineering. While the gov't should address the ills of society, I don't think it should be as hands on shaping new industries on the mere belief that there could eventually be a problem.
  • 0 Hide
    squatchman , February 24, 2009 7:33 PM
    I don't consider it a monopoly if everyone simply uses it because it's the best which it is.

    Ma Bell wanted voters like you around.
  • 0 Hide
    nekatreven , February 24, 2009 9:40 PM
    jhansonxiUnless you are encrypting your e-mail and documents then any ISP you use has the same access to your data.

    Yea...that's each ISP having access to their own network's traffic vs Google's access to most of the modern world's email, docs, spending habits...yea that list again. Only ATT and a few other's networks would even come close on the traffic snooping side...and anyway the good stuff there already is encrypted (shopping, etc.). Not so with G's checkout and some other services...they decrypt when it gets to them. Even if they re-encrypt before storing its one way and they have the key. So...

    "One of these things is not like the other one. One of these things is just not the same!"

    Not to mention...SSL FTW baby. At least you can do that with the ISP. SSL on IMAP and SMTP and bounce your web traffic through an SSL proxy in a 3rd world country. All your ISP knows now is how many noobs you pwned on CoD, and similar things that are left unencrypted.

    How would you do that with Google if you even wanted to?

    I'm not saying they are evil and we should all discuss conspiracies and wear foil hats. I'm just saying we'd better hope it doesn't come to that because their power is greatly underestimated.