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September 2008

Antitrust Institute paper opposes Google-Yahoo ad pact

Norman Hawker of the American Antitrust Institute released a measured and balanced white paper, "The proposed Google-Yahoo alliance" that recommends the agreement be blocked if Yahoo can't remain a viable competitor to Google and Yahoo.


  • One telling quote: "It strains credulity, however, to believe that Google would agree to an arrangement that gives its chief rival $800 million

    to invest in efforts that would, if successful, reduce Google’s market power."

The paper is well done. It is a value-added read for those focusing on the outcome of this issue. It is also a good complement to my recent white paper: "Googleopoly II Google's predatory playbook to thwart competition."

The privacy problem is Unauthorized Tracking; the privacy solution is a Meaningful Consent Standard

There was a major tectonic shift in the Internet privacy debate today at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Internet privacy. 

Has the Behavioral Advertising industry misled consumers?

Behavioral advertising industry... you have a problem. A BIG problem.

  • Consumer reports just released a major consumer poll that shows that the vast majority of American consumers are unaware of how the behavioral advertising industry invades their privacy and that American consumers overwhelmingly want more personal control over their privacy online.  

The BIG problem the behavioral advertising industry has is that the consumer evidence strongly suggests that the industry has not respected anti-fraud consumer protection laws that require fair representation.

  • Specifically, the industry has not fairly represented that they are invading individuals' privacy in ways most Americans do not approve of.  
  • Simply, the behavioral advertising industry finds itself squarely on the wrong side of the American consumer, as the public and Washington focus attention on the serious Internet privacy problem of Unauthorized Tracking. 

Consider the stark poll results of the widely respected and independent Consumer Reports:     

Add facial recognition to Google list of privacy creepiness

Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be another creepy way Google could threaten privacy, Google does not disappoint. Google is now adding faceprints to what it already knows about you: voiceprints, searchprints, clickprints, homeprints, emailprints, DNAprints, and readerprints -- because Google does not "know enough about you..."

  • An excellent article by Jefferson Graham in USA Today informs us that Google is now an industry-leader in... facial recognition technology!
    • In 2006, Google acquired a leading company in facial recognition, and Google is using it now to help simplify the tagging and organization of people's rapidly growing archives of digital pictures through its Picassa photo application.
    • Mr. Graham found a great quote to capture the privacy concern:

      • "I don't like it at all," says Rob Williams, who blogs for the Techgage website. "Google knows what I search for, where I live and how much time I spend on websites. Now they know what my friends look like, too. That's just too much."

The problem is this is part of a much bigger pattern of disrespect of privacy by Google.

Google-Yahoo's "tip of the iceberg" problem with DOJ

The Google-Yahoo ad agreement is at great risk of being blocked by antitrust authorities because of a very serious "tip of the iceberg" problem.

  • Google and Yahoo continue to publicly frame the issue as only what is above-the-surface in plain-sight -- i.e. the proposed ad agreement -- or what I describe as the 'tip of the iceberg.'
  • Unfortunately for the companies, skilled and dutiful antitrust investigators look deep beneath the surface for the 90% that is  hidden and secret -- the true relationship and incentives between Google and Yahoo -- or what I describe as the rest of the iceberg.
  • The reason why the public and press may be surprised if the DOJ challenges the Google-Yahoo ad partnership, is that very few have bothered to dive in and look beneath the surface of this ad agreement to what it means for the overall relationship between Google and Yahoo. 

There are sound reasons our judicial system requires that parties/witnesses testify under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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