U.S. Senators Band Together to Target Google
Under the FairSearch.org coalition, these companies asked the Justice Department to block or limit the deal, which would allow Google to control the ITA fire hose of data that is so valuable to their online travel services. "Google's position as the preeminent search engine may be abused so as to disadvantage competing vertical search sites to the detriment of advertisers and internet users," Lee wrote, echoing FairSearch.org members' position.These anti-competition and privacy infringement arguments levied against Google are not new. In fact, they echo much of what Google has already heard from vertical search engines such as Foundem, eJustice.fr and Microsoft's Ciao. These companies prompted the European Commission to investigate Google for anti-competitive practices, arguing that the search engine drops their Websites' rankings in Google.com in favor of its own product search services. Texas State Attorney General Gregg Abbott launched a parallel investigation into the matter by other complainants in the United States. Meanwhile, attorneys general in more than 30 states have joined forces to request the data that Google's Street View cars accidentally collected over unsecured wireless networks. Through all of this growing opposition, Google has professed an interest in serving customers the best possible way. A Google spokesman told eWEEK: "Our goal is to provide users with the best possible answers as quickly as possible-and we know that if we don't deliver useful results, competition is only one click away. Given our success and the disruptive nature of the Internet, we know that scrutiny comes with the territory, but we're committed to making search even better for consumers." Unfortunately for Google, the Senate doesn't appear to be buying that competition is a click away, and a sweeping antitrust investigation into the company appears almost assured for 2011 given Kohl's emphasis on Google and the search market in the antitrust subcommittee's agenda.
Lee also argued that Google's wealth of personal data, including data on users' search Web History, and Web services such as Gmail, Google Checkout and DoubleClick open it to privacy threats.