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Watchdog Calls for Federal Inquiry into Google

By , BRAINSTORM TECH BLOG - FORTUNE

Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm

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Consumer group wants Justice Department to break Google up or convert it into a public utility

Today the consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog called for a broad Department of Justice investigation into Google and significant punishments against the Mountain View, CA-based company.

The complaint paints Google’s search engine monopoly, which is currently at 70% of the U.S. market, as a way to invade other businesses.  ”How it tweaks its proprietary search algorithms can ensure a business’s success or doom it to failure,” said John M. Simpson, a consumer advocate with the group.

It also says Google uses money and power from its search business to enter into other businesses unfairly.

The DOJ is currently investigating Google Books and in the process of clearing its recent AdMob purchase.   However, Consumer Watchdog views these tactics as reactionary and urges the government to “actively restrain Google’s broader ability to abuse both users and advertisers.”

Google representative, Adam Kovacevich said, “We totally understand that with size and success comes scrutiny. Although given their track record, even if we broke Google in half tomorrow, Consumer Watchdog would probably insist that we split halves into quarters  ”

Consumer Watchdog released its letter (PDF) to the Justice Department today at a news conference called “The Antitrust Case Against Google,” which was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  Other participants were Joseph Bial, special counsel at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, who represents myTriggers.com and TradeComet.com.; Simon Buckingham, a New York based Internet and mobile entrepreneur; and Gary Reback, an attorney with Carrell & Ferrell and a founder of the Open Book Alliance.

Consumer Watchdog yesterday said that Google had increased its lobbyist spending by 57%.

Google yesterday unveiled a government requests tool that allows citizens to track their government’s request for data and removal requests.

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