A French decision on Caribbean yogurt muddies the difference between antitrust and consumer protection, which are quite distinct concepts in America.
We’ve been discussing the FTC and EU investigations of Google’s search practices for more than two years. The latest FairSearch contentions represent a transparent attempt to forestall resolution of the European process, moving the goalposts in light of the failure of their dire competitive predictions. It is time for Commissioner Almunia and the EU to close up shop, settle and move on.
Thirteen months after the FTC settled its antitrust investigation of Google by flatly declining to regulate the company’s search practices, the EU is poised to do just that.
In the ongoing saga of governmental antitrust investigations of Google, recent weeks have witnessed a new level of rhetoric and disingenuous use of the regulatory process to handicap, rather than promote, competition and innovation. The current case in point relates once again to search neutrality, but this time complaining rivals remarkably object to getting exactly what they’ve asked for over many years.
German, French, Japanese and other nations’ legal rules on search defamation, autocomplete and royalties are foreign, literally, to U.S. jurisprudence.
FairSearch.org is in denial. That is why its proposals should be rejected by antitrust enforcement authorities worldwide. Nothing distills the difference between the European and American approaches to competition law as much as this trend-setting investigation.
No one can say with any seriousness that Google has captured a large share of Web search, and search advertising, with anything other than smarter software writers and more refined product developers. It simply built a better mousetrap. The EU’s challenge is that reality does not support the amorphous and transparently biased charges leveled against Google by rivals who have been unable to top it in the marketplace.
The operative question remains whether whatever Google is charged with having done, or may do in the future, respecting its display of Web search results should be considered exclusionary conduct for antitrust purposes. The answer to date is a resounding “No.”
The European Union has ordered Google to make “sweeping changes” to its business model by extending restrictions being demanded for Web search into the mobile realm. That’s wrong because mobile is fundamentally different for 5 profoundly important reasons.
People have been talking, and pontificating, about a coming “Internet of Things” since 1999. Now the European Union wants to regulate the IoT even before it is fully gestated and born.