Google March 11 found itself in the cross hairs of U.S. senators intent on pursuing the search engine for alleged anti-competitive practices in a market it dominates.
Despite competition that exists just a click away, the bull's-eye on
Google's back has grown as big as its 65 percent U.S.
search market share in the eyes of the U.S. Senate.
One day after the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy,
and Consumer Rights vowed to ensure fair competition in the Internet search
market dominated by Google, Sen. Michael S. Lee, R-Utah, March 11 called for
the subcommittee to conduct an oversight hearing on the search giant.
Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., said in a March 10
statement on the group's agenda that he wants to make sure Internet search is
fair to users and customers, that consumers' privacy is preserved, and that
advertisers who pay search engines to place information about their goods and
services have sufficient choices.
It's no coincidence that these, along with Google's increased appetite for
acquisitions that fortify its massive market plot, are all areas where Google
has found itself challenged in 2010.
"In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world's
largest search engine, Google, has increased and Google has increasingly sought
to acquire e-commerce sites in myriad businesses," Kohl said in a statement
"In this regard, we will closely examine allegations raised by
e-commerce Websites that compete with Google that they are being treated
unfairly in search ranking, and in their ability to purchase search
advertising. We also will continue to closely examine the impact of further
acquisitions in this sector."
Lee fervently supported Kohl's stance and called for the Senate to conduct
oversight hearings into the company's search, advertising, and merger and
acquisition practices, which have made it a sort of "gatekeeper over a
variety of Internet businesses."
Lee cited Google's $700 million bid
for ITA Software as an example. Google July 1, 2010, moved to
purchase ITA to gain access to online flight fare and scheduling information
that is used by a number of online travel and vertical companies, including
Expedia, Kayak and Microsoft.