Details of Google’s proposed settlement with the European Union to avoid antitrust charges have been leaking out of Brussels over the weekend. And while EU competition authorities appear to have accomplished more that the gentle tap on the wrist meted out by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the deal as so far revealed doesn’t do enough to end Google’s anti-competitive practices.
Google’s privacy chief, Alma Whitten, is stepping down the Internet giant confirmed Monday. Since word of her departure came out on April Fools’ Day many folks probably thought this was part of the company’s annual elaborate pranks like its “announcement” of a new service called “Google Nose.”
Eleven Internet Companies are pressing European antitrust regulators to take strong action against Google so that the Internet giant’s smaller rivals aren’t hurt. And what happens across the pond in this case could have an impact on possible antitrust action in the United States.
Google may have only received a tap on the wrist from the Federal Trade Commission when the agency closed the U.S. antitrust investigation without taking action against the Internet giant for skewing search results to favor its services, but it’s looking increasingly likely that Google will face strong action on the other side of the Atlantic.
Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has given Google what Bloomberg News Service describes as an ultimatum to settle the agency’s antitrust investigation in the next few days or face a lawsuit.
Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, is getting a little bit of ink for his suggestion that all politicians elected today quit their parties and “govern as independents in name and in spirit.”
Signs that Google will soon face strong antitrust action on both sides of the Atlantic are increasing with a report Thursday from Bloomberg News Service that the the Federal Trade Commission staff has recommended that the Internet giant be sued for unfairly blocking competitors’ access to smartphone-technology patents.
Consumer Watchdog challenges that $4 million figure. “The government has not given this court any insight into how it made its calculations,” the organization argues, adding that it needs more evidence from Google in order to determine the extent of profits from the workaround.
“I think Romney would let the effort die,” said John Simpson, privacy project director for Consumer Watchdog, a Washington-based public interest group. “He’s an advocate of less regulation on business, so I don’t see much hope that he would be would be concerned about privacy.”
While the FTC and Google came up with the settlement, it needs to be approved by a judge, which is what next month’s hearing is about. Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group that has been critical of Google’s privacy measures, will argue that the court should not sign off on the deal.
SANTA MONICA, CA — Google and Facebook continued to pump money into their Washington lobbying efforts in the third quarter with the Internet giant spending its second most amount in one quarter while the social networking company spent its most ever for one quarter.
“Google and Facebook would have you believe that they are different from other corporations,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “They are not. They are following the corrupt corporate tradition in Washington: buying what you want.”
SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog urged the founders of Google to take today’s early leak of financial information — which caused Google to ask to suspend trading in its stock — as a wake up call for the billionaire executives and prompt them to support giving Google users the right to suspend trading in their own private information.