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Google and Government Regulators

By admin | August 5, 2010

Attorney Gary Reback made his name by taking on Microsoft in the 1990s and facilitating what became the story of the decade: Microsoft’s continuing battle against federal regulations meant to discourage and break up monopolies.

Now, Reback has his eyes on Google, who he says is the new dangerous monopolist of this decade.

His latest clients are the Adam and Shivaun Raff, the London-based husband-and-wife duo behind comparison shopping portal Foundem. The Raffs claim that their website was downgraded by Google and then became the subject of extortion as Google attempted to draw more money in order to give the couple’s site a higher ranking. They allege that Google then put the spotlight on its own shopping portal in their place.

Reback claims that “Google is the arbiter of every single thing on the Web, and it favors its properties over everyone else.” Google counters by saying that its aim is to provide the best search results possible for each user, contending with its rivals (like Microsoft’s Bing) in the process.

Many agree with Google. The Open Internet Coalition’s director, Markham C. Erickson, says that Google doesn’t want to be a “player” in Washington. It only wants to educate lawmakers on what they’re doing and be left alone to let users in the marketplace decide. “Once you’re big,” concedes Erickson, “you’re not cute anymore.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has already begun looking into Google’s affairs, questioning its board-level relationships with other tech giants like Apple. Likewise, the FCC has also considered Google’s prominent advertising share online and in mobile venues, though with competition from Apple and Microsoft, that look seems to have diminished.

With “Net Neutrality” a hot topic in Washington, it’s no doubt that Google will continue to be the focus of many more looks and much consideration from lawmakers and regulators.

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