Since April when Bloomberg News reported that the Federal Trade Commission was contemplating a full-blown antitrust investigation of Google, people who follow the Internet giant have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It did on Thursday with the report in the Wall Street Journal that the five-member Commission is about to serve Google with civil subpoenas — known as Civil Investigative Demands — about its business practices.
SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today invited Google to participate in a conference, “Google, The Internet And The Future,” that the nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group plans to host in Washington this fall as part of its Inside Google project. The invitation came in a letter to CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It was prompted by Google’s promotional campaign this week in Washington highlighting its privacy tools and a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition hearing Thursday on competition in digital markets.
On Thursday, Consumer Watchdog complained about the ad rejection in an open letter published on its site, and a Google representative confirmed Friday that Google had overturned the original decision but did not admit making any error. “As the trademark owner, upon becoming aware of their letter, we decided–regardless of whether these particular ads violate our policies or not–to authorize them to run,” a Google representative said.
Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy today called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s announced plan to buy Invite Media, a display advertising company, for around $70 million, saying the deal raises substantial competitive and privacy concerns.
John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog said the deal will undermine competition, and could result in higher prices for advertisers and consumers.
“How this possibly can be construed as promoting competition is incomprehensible,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, a strident Google critic. “What it demonstrates is Google’s clout in Washington.”
“We’re very disappointed, we think it’s still pretty clear that these two combined are an unstoppable juggernaut,” said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog spokesman on Friday. “There’s also an arguable case that Apple’s activities need to be investigated right now with what they’re planning to do with Quattro and perhaps shutting people out of the iPhone platform.”
“I’m really incredulous,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. “What they are saying is the No. 1 and the No. 2 can combine, and it’s not a problem because there is a No. 3 over there that is now owned by Apple. I find that incomprehensible.”
The Federal Trade Commission’s decision allowing the $750 million deal for Google to buy mobile advertising company AdMob is anticompetitive and bad for consumers, Consumer Watchdog said today.
Consumer Watchdog and Center for Digital Democracy were concerned more about the impact the deal would have on consumers’ ability to protect their privacy than the possible antitrust implications of the acquisition.
Consumer Watchdog today formally launched its new Website, Inside Google, to focus attention on the company’s activities and hold Google accountable for its actions. The sites’ URL is http://insidegoogle.com.
Consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said Monday it was sending the FTC a letter urging the agency to investigate the mishap. John Simpson, the group’s consumer advocate, said he was concerned that Google’s promise to get third-parties to review the software in question was insufficient.
Google could announce this week that it will move SSL encryption implemented in Gmail to other services such as search. During the company’s annual shareholders meeting a question on this from John Simpson, an investor who works for Consumer Watchdog, prompted a curt “Do you get the drift of the answer?” from Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt after Google vice president of search Marissa Mayer replied “stay tuned.” Encryption has moved to the forefront after Google’s admission last week it had collected small pieces of private information people sent through unencrypted wireless networks.