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"Pro-trust" EU Competition Remedies for Google's Antitrust Violations
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Tue, 2012-10-23 11:02
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.
Now Google's continuous lack of full cooperation and compliance over the last several months with both the EU's competition and privacy enforcement authorities has created an EU enforcement perfect storm for itself.
Moreover, Google would have a very hard time objecting to such a "pro-trust" remedy given how public Google has been in claiming to be fully committed to maintaining user trust and to how competition in this market does and should work.
If Google has been forthright in these public representations and promises, they should have no objection to such an antitrust consumer protection remedy.
Furthermore, Google also should be supportive of the "pro-trust" remedies listed below that could help fix the fundamental inherent problem that Google's founders' identified in 1998 when they invented their search engine. "…we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers. Since it is very difficult even for experts to evaluate search engines, search engine bias is particularly insidious." … "…we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent…"
Some "Pro-trust" EU Competition Remedies for Google's Antitrust Violations:
In sum, Google's own behavior and non-cooperation has created a perfect storm of EU competition and privacy enforcement against Google. The suggested "pro-trust" remedies above are by no means comprehensive, but pointedly show how remedies can be crafted to not be about protecting competitors but to be about protecting competition and consumers, which is what Google publicly claims to support wholeheartedly.