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Google This: A Look at the Antitrust Suits Facing the Tech Giant

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With an FTC decision pending, will Google find itself deleted?

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Europe's Case Against Google

Back in May, a European Commission released the results of a two-year antitrust investigation of Google's practices, and expressed concerns over the four following findings:

1. Google gives preference to its own specialized search results.
2. It displays other companies' information in search results without permission.
3. It retains control over search advertising on websites that utilize Google's search technology.
4. It makes it harder for competitors to design and execute platforms other than Google's platform for advertisers.

But, as outlined by Tech Freedom, a non-profit, non-partisan technology think tank, the Europeans' case has a few weak points:

Despite these concerns, the commission will likely find it difficult to prove that Google has done anything wrong, even under Europe's heavy-handed antitrust laws. Moreover, it remains unclear what Google could actually do to allay the EC's concerns or whether time itself would simply outpace even the best-intentioned regulatory remedy aimed at supplanting Google's market position.

Among the arguments against the EC's case, the result of a 2003 ruling against Microsoft, which forced the software giant to offer a version of its Windows XP OS without a Windows Media Player application installed (sound familiar?), and offer users a choice in setting a default browser, stands out. Sales for a refitted Windows XP product were abysmal, and there was no clear sign that offering a browser choice changed consumer behavior. This seriously undermined the grounds on which the case was judged, and raised the question as to whether Microsoft needed to offer consumers a choice at all.

Other problems with the EC's case include claims that Google search hinders competition by giving its content preferential treatment. But hindering a competitor's business by offering your own product differently is not necessarily the definition of shutting it out of competition completely. It is not necessarily an unfair practice.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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