Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit advocacy group who investigates allegations of corporate misconduct and corruption. They have been engaged in a campaign against Google over their data collection and search practices for several years.
In a letter to the European Commission, the body who must ok the deal in Europe, Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson claims Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility, combined with their dominance in mobile search and advertising, would create "a virtually unstoppable juggernaut."
Most of their allegations about Google's practices are based on claims from numerous companies who consider Google a competitor. These claims have already resulted in antitrust investigations by the European Commission in Europe and FTC in the US. In addition, Simpson claims Google is pressuring handset vendors to favor Google applications, but fails to cite any evidence in the letter.
He further goes on to suggest a number of other measures he believes are appropriate to reduce Google's power over Internet users around the world:
- Google could be broken into different companies devoted to different lines of business so there is no incentive to unfairly use search to promote other services. Search could be separated from advertising. Gmail and the new social networking service, Google +, could be spun off as a separate entity, as could YouTube, a Google acquisition that should have been denied at the time of merger. Enterprise applications could be another separate business.
- Google?s search engine?s importance as a gateway to cyberspace requires a maximum degree of openness and transparency. Google?s monopoly position and importance to the Internet means that the company should be closely regulated. Regulations could be designed to open up Google?s ad platform to enable other competitors to compete. Rules could be crafted to create greater transparency in the operation of Google?s ad platform to enable parties to negotiate more effectively. For example: Providing greater visibility into the maximum amount of the highest bid, how many search terms are shown per page, and how Google?s ?quality score? is derived and applied. Little, if any, of this information is currently public and openness would contribute to consumer choice and options as well as foster competition.
- Another remedy could be to force Google to disgorge its monopolistic gains through the imposition of financial penalties. The payment would have to be significant enough to impact Google?s future behavior. Google hardly blinked when it paid half a billion dollars to the United States to settle an illegal drug sales case. Perhaps the amount could be tied to paying back consumers for monetizing their private information and content without asking them permission or compensating them.
You can read the entire letter below.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 23 Jan 2012 16:15