Is Google for liberty or taking liberties?

Written by on July 7, 2015 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

SEO Button Shows Internet Marketing In Search ResultsA new study conducted by Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Tim Wu of Columbia Law School (Mr. Net Neutrality) claims that Google is taking liberties with its search result display.  In particular the study claims that Google’s methods give a significant preference to their won result above those of their competitors.  Specifically the report findings point out that “users were 45% more likely to click on results that were ranked purely by relevance, rather than as Google ranks them now, with its own services displayed prominently”.

The authors went on, to provide “empirical evidence” that Google’s search practices have harmed consumers in some cases and as such “cannot be described as pro-competitive.” “The demonstration of consumer harm is, we think, an important conclusion…that should influence any competition law analysis,” the study says.

A small caveat – the report was commissioned by Yelp, a direct competitor of Google to highlight the practices of the Super-giant Internet Company (can’t really call them the Search Giant anymore).

The main target for this report and any associated publicity is without a doubt is the discussion surrounding the EU’s anti-trust case against Google. If, just for a second, we look at this in the context of Net Neutrality, it really starts to look interesting.  If an operator was giving preference to its own services (say VoIP) above those of a competitor (say Skype), there would be a huge uproar. The FCC would be issuing lawsuits faster than my kid can recite the Pledge of Allegiance. All with good reason, this would violate the most basic tenet – the very core of Net Neutrality’s. Whatever Net Neutrality has evolved (or devolved) into, the founding principle is that a Service Provider should in no way give precedence to their own service in place of a competitor’s.

Why not extend this basic principle to all players across the Internet Service ecosystem. Google and similar companies would be first in line to object to this kind of behavior if it emanating from the operators part of the ecosystem.  Why not one rule for all?

So the EU may have political motivations for their anti-trust case, it doesn’t make the issue less real. Why isn’t the FCC as gung-ho about taking this issue as they are about expanding their powers into other areas? Why is the Whitehouse silent when it comes to this kind of behavior when they were so vocal with regards to need to preserve an open Internet?

This article was first published here, and is reproduced with kind permission.

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About the Author

About the Author: Jonathon has been lurking around the Telecoms and Internet space for the last 20 years. He is now a man on a mission – that being the reformation of the Industry Analyst business. He is working with his co-conspirators on transforming the Industry Analyst world forever as an Expert with EMI. .

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