Consumer Watchdog Calls On FTC To Sue Google For Antitrust Violations; Force
Break Up Of Company And Spinoff of Motorola Mobility
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 15, 2012
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer
Watchdog today urged the Federal Trade Commission to file an antitrust suit
against Google and proceed to trial in U.S. District Court. The group said the
FTC should break up the company and force it to divest its Motorola Mobility
In a letter to the five FTC commissioners, the nonpartisan, nonprofit public
interest group warned that a "negotiated settlement will inevitably invite
cynicism about the results, particularly if such an accord allowed Google to
deny any wrongdoing."
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has reportedly told Google to answer the agency's
antitrust concerns in the next few weeks or face legal action. A suit or
settlement would require approval by a majority of the Commissioners.
"The Federal Trade Commission's role in keeping Google's abuses in check is
essential. The Internet is too important to allow an unregulated monopolist
to dominate it," wrote John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project
director. "We call on you to take the steps necessary to prevent it: File a
formal antitrust complaint against Google and go to trial in Federal District
Court in Washington, DC. If the Commission opts to settle the case, the
consent agreement must require Google to admit wrongdoing and be strong enough
to change Google's behavior and protect consumers from harm."
Read the letter to the FTC here:
Consumer Watchdog stressed that a public trial is the best course to follow,
but if the FTC opts to negotiate, here are some specific recommendations for a
oGoogle should be required to divest Motorola Mobility, whose standards
essential patents it is using unfairly by not making them available for
license on a fair basis.
oGoogle should 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 relatively 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.
oGoogle's search services should be separated from services where Google
provides its own content.
oGoogle's search engine's importance as a gateway to Internet 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 like a public utility. Regulations should be designed to open
up Google's ad platform to enable other competitors to compete. Rules
should be crafted to create greater transparency in the operation
ofGoogle'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.
oGoogle should be forced to disgorge its monopolistic gains through the
imposition of substantial financial penalties. Your change in policy
regarding disgorgement over the summer was a welcome step and we urge you
to apply it in this case.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. The proposed $22.5 million fine for violating the "Buzz"
Consent Decree is but pocket change for the Internet giant. Perhaps the
amount disgorged could be tied to paying back consumers for monetizing
their private information and content without asking them permission or
Visit our website at www.consumerwatchdog.org
SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
Contact: John M. Simpson, +1-310-392-7041
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