Consumer Watchdog Asks Justice Department To Take Over Google Antitrust Action
As Chairman Schmidt Equates Google With 1990s Microsoft
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2012
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Consumer Watchdog today
called on the U.S. Department of Justice to take over the ongoing federal
antitrust probe of Google after the company's chairman in a news interview
equated it with antitrust poster child Microsoft in the 1990s. The Federal
Trade Commission appears ready to conclude its 20-month investigation "with no
more than a scolding."
"This is baffling in light of recent comments by Google Executive Chairman
Eric Schmidt comparing his company to Microsoft in the 1990s, when the
Department of Justice prosecuted the software company for abusing its monopoly
of desktop computers," the nonpartisan, nonprofit group wrote in a letter
Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder. "In other words, the FTC is settling
for rubbish just as the new computer monopolist equates its own power and
dominance with the last poster child for government antitrust action. The
public deserves to know how even Google's executives see the company's
dominance of mobile and online markets."
The public would have been better off if the Justice Department had taken
charge of the investigation from the start, Consumer Watchdog said. The only
meaningful checks on Google's wrongdoing have come from the Department, when
it negotiated a settlement that fined Google $500 million for illegally
advertising drugs. The Department also took the lead in opposing the
anticompetitive Google Books settlement.
Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court, Washington Director Carmen Balber and
Privacy Project Director John M. Simpson signed the letter to Holder. They
"Press reports suggest that the FTC will close its probe of Google's
anti-competitive practices by accepting a letter that promises the company
will play nice with others. Such a 'pledge' is meaningless for a company with
Google's track record of lying to regulators and the public about its business
activities and violating consent agreements. Consumers need the Justice
Department to step in and fill the vacuum that will be left if the FTC
abdicates its responsibility to protect consumers from Google's abuse of its
monopoly to manipulate consumers in the online and mobile worlds."
Read Consumer Watchdog's letter here:
"Given the FTC's track record with Google we were not optimistic when the
Justice Department deferred to the Commission's antitrust investigation. And,
if press reports are correct, that pessimism is justified. The Department of
Justice has fared far better in its dealings with the Internet giant, which is
why we call upon you to reopen the Department's investigation," the letter
said. "Consumer Watchdog believes the best course of action is for the
Department of Justice ultimately to bring an antitrust suit and go to trial.
The fully developed public record that would result from a trial would ensure
that effective remedies could be put in place. A negotiated settlement will
inevitably invite cynicism about the results, and keep any documents obtained
in the course of the investigation out of the public eye."
Consumer Watchdog said the remedies that the Justice Department should seek
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.
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.
oGoogle should be forced to disgorge its monopolistic gains through the
imposition of substantial financial penalties. The amount disgorged could
be tied to paying back consumers for monetizing their private information
and content without asking them permission or compensating them.
Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization with offices
in Santa Monica, CA and Washington, DC. Visit Consumer Watchdog online at
SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
Contact: Jamie Court, +1-310-392-0522, ext. 327 or Carmen Balber,
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