Rural, Minority Lobbyists Oppose Google-Yahoo Deal

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-05-10 Print this article Print

In anticipation (or fear) of a Google-Yahoo search outsourcing tie, 16 organizations comprising rural and minority groups opposed the pact in a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Friday.

The Google-Yahoo deal was tested last month, but so far, the vendors have yet to formally announce the partnership, in which Yahoo would run Google paid search terms alongside its search results. Such a deal would form a formidable relationship of the two vendors who command roughly 90 percent of the online search market.

Why the opposition from Black Leadership Forum, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and the League of Rural Voters, to name a few?

The civic groups said in a statement that they rely on online grass-roots organizing and fundraising, and claim that Google has already exhibited a pattern of violating privacy, engaging in anticompetitive conduct and using its monopoly power in the search market to drive Internet users to its affiliated services and its viewpoints on policy matters.

"We face a possible future in which no content can be found without Google's permission," the groups argued in the letter.

"The effect of mega corporate mergers on the Black communityparticularly on consumers and contractors--is rarely ever positive," said Gary Flowers, executive director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum. "The proposed Google-Yahoo merger is no different. Condensing competition would increase prices and limit new business opportunity on the Internet for African Americans."

We're used to hearing from the Center for Digital Democracy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Precursor Group about why such deals are anticompetitive, but the Black Leadership Forum, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and the League of Rural Voters?

Now that's different; it means Google-Yahoo is getting hit by the grass-roots lobbyistsnot just shrill market vultures. The government will listen to them.

If CDD, EFF and Precursor pile on, Google-Yahoo will face some formidable opposition in terms of sheer number of groups. Not that the DOJ needs any encouragement. They're already said to be scrutinizing the deal, which may explain why Google is rumored to be second-guessing it.

My question: If Yahoo doesn't get Google to do this deal, what happens to Yahoo? And is Microsoft using its broad influence to get these rural and minority groups to put pressure on the DOJ in the hopes of swooping to make another pass at Yahoo?

The next few weeks should be interesting.





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