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"Pro-trust" EU Competition Remedies for Google's Antitrust Violations

Google remains its own worst enemy in trying to resolve EU antitrust charges.

In early 2012, when Google was trying to convince EU antitrust authorities that enforcement action against Google's search practices -- preferring its own content in search ranking over competitors -- would only harm consumers and was unnecessary because competition was but "a click away" for consumers, Google announced it would consolidate 60 privacy policies without user permission or user choice to opt-out, and then did it a month later, over the EU's strong objections.

This was a flagrant strategic mistake because: first the EU prides itself for strong consumer privacy laws and privacy protections; second the EU fully-understands that consumers' privacy is the de facto currency that Google uses to propel its monopoly; and third Google's primary antitrust defense is that they are the ones that are best looking out for consumers interests and that consumers have plenty of choice.

Google's Top Ten Anti-Privacy Quotes -- Part 3 In Google's Own Words Series

It's timely to review Google's public attitude towards privacy, given reports that the EU officially has found legal fault with Google's big change in its privacy policy last March, in which Google forced integration of sixty previously-separate privacy policies on users without explicit user consent.

Google: in its own words:

Bork-Sidak's Fatally Flawed Google Antitrust Defense

As an unabashed Milton Friedman conservative, I strongly agree with Judge Robert H. Bork and Professor J. Gregory Sidak that antitrust law's purpose is to protect competition and the competitive process and not to protect competitors. I also hold my fellow conservatives in highest regard. However, as a highly-experienced and esteemed judge and professor, they know they must prove their case on the merits. In Google's case, they have not.

While it would be difficult to challenge the sophistication of their legal analysis, it is not hard to discredit the sophistication of their economic analysis of the relevant market, economics, and behavior in question. Their defense indicates that they have fully-adopted Google's core economic premises and public-representations, so their skilled legal arguments can do no better than the fatally-flawed material with which Google has given them to work.

Specifically, their legal analyses rest upon a misunderstanding of the relevant market in question. Since antitrust prosecution is fact-driven, not theory dependent, no amount of legal or economic theoretical elegance can overcome a fatally-flawed factual predicate.

An FTC Googleopoly Get out of Jail Free Card? -- Part 7: Google Unaccountability Series

Connecting the dots, Google may gain a de facto Monopoly® "Get out of Jail Free" antitrust settlement from the FTC before the election. Bloomberg reports that the FTC has pushed to move up the conclusion of its antitrust investigation from "end of the year" to mid-September. Assuming that report is accurate, it has big implications. Let's connect the dots.

First, the sudden acceleration of the endgame of the FTC investigation strongly suggests external circumstances (i.e. the EU-Google antitrust settlement negotiations timetable) are driving the timing/outcome of the FTC's Google investigation, given that the EU and Google reportedly reached an "understanding" in late July that could result in a settlement of antitrust charges. This suggests the FTC is considering becoming a tagalong to the EU settlement, despite the very different law and process in the U.S.

Who but Google is Thriving in Online Advertising?

Evidence abounds that the industry business model of online advertising, minus Google, is shockingly weak competitively, given how many people assume advertising is supposed to be the viable competitive monetization engine that will sustain the "free and open Internet" long term.

Anyone open to connecting-the-dots of recent public evidence will see an obvious dichotomy: Google is thriving, while much of the rest of the online advertising industry is struggling despite unprecedented: opportunity to reach users, technological efficiencies, and access to troves of private data to target ads to produce more revenue growth.

Examine the accumulating troubling evidence of how weak online advertising competition has become.

The Internet Advertising Bureau's latest reporting of 15% online advertising growth for the industry in 1Q12 masks the large Google vs. competitor revenue growth dichotomy. Given that Google grew 24% 1Q12 and comprises almost half of all U.S. online advertising per eMarketer, I calculate that the rest of the online advertising industry is growing only about 8%. That means Google is growing three times faster than its online competitors and continues to take market share at an accelerating rate.

Google Fiber: Modern Technology, but Obsolete Policy Thinking

Please see my latest Daily Caller Op-ed: "Google Fiber: Modern Technology, but Obsolete Policy Thinking" here.

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Obsolete Communications Law Op-ed Series:

Part 1: "Obsolete communications law stifles innovation, harms consumers"

Google Responds to the EU's Antitrust Ultimatum -- A Satire

6 June 2012

Joaquín Almunia
European Commission, Vice President for Competition Policy
Brussels, Belgium

Dear Joaquín Almunia,

Thank you for your May 21 letter sharing your Google antitrust concerns, and for your offer of discussions to avoid "adversarial proceedings."

In this dispute among equals, we would like to counter with Google's concerns about your antitrust investigation.

First, no matter how many times we explain our business or how slowly we talk, your investigators can't seem to grasp the expanse of our algorithmic genius or the fact that our engineers are higher life forms not bound by the laws of man or nature. Going forward we will only talk to fellow gifted engineers.

Second, the velocity of Google's innovation and the fast-moving nature of these markets mean antitrust authorities can't keep up with us. By the time the EU figures out that we have monopolized one market, we will have monopolized many more. Surrender while you still can. Resistance is futile. Get over it.

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