FTC Nominee Says No To Google Antitrust Action, Anti-Google Voter Survey Argues Yes

As the FTC considers whether to brand Google a “monopoly” and initiate an antitrust action against the company, it appears new FTC nominee Joshua Wright, a law professor from George Mason University, is not among those who favor it. In addition to being nominated by President Obama, Wright is supported by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Politico points out that “Wright is also listed as a senior adjunct fellow for TechFreedom, a think tank that Google has listed as among the groups at which it sponsors policy fellows.” Wright has also written reports and blog posts arguing the case against government action vs. Google.

On a related note, anti-Google consortium FairSearch.org released the results of a telephone survey of 800 “likely voters” today. Conducted by third party The Tarrance Group, the poll also calls out and compares the views of “conservative” voters who presumably would be less inclined to support government intervention (in the form of antitrust action against Google).

The survey results assert that “a majority of the electorate” supports the FTC investigation and potential action to stop alleged anti-competitive Google practices.

Survey respondents were asked a series of questions about their online and search behavior and their attitudes toward Google. They were then “educated” about Google’s market dominance and asked about whether the government should take action to stop certain Google practices. Below are top-level findings (much more detailed findings and discussion are available in this pdf).

“Uniformed” electorate view: Google not a monopoly

Based only on their current understanding of what Google is and does, including the services it provides and the products it offers, voters are almost evenly split on whether Google holds a monopoly position in the search engine and search advertising marketplaces. While 41% feel Google holds a monopoly, 48% feel it does not and only 11% are unsure. Intensity is evenly divided with 26% who feel strongly yes and 25% who feel strongly no.

“Informed” (aided) view: Google is a monopoly

[W]hen told that “Google currently controls 79% of the online search market in the U.S. along with more than 90% in Europe and more than 95% of searches performed on a mobile phone,” two-thirds (67%) of all voters indicate they would be more likely to think that Google has a monopoly position in the search engine market, and 40% feel strongly more likely. Just 19% of voters stay rooted in the view that Google does not, indicating that this information makes them less likely to think Google has a monopoly position.

The campaign-style poll’s results should be viewed with a highly critical eye because of the structure of the questions and the anti-Google bias of the sponsoring organization. Rather than seeking to simply determine public attitudes, the manner in which the poll was conducted appears intended to produce a result that argues there is broad public support for antitrust action against Google.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Antitrust | Google: Critics | Google: Legal | Legal: Regulation

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • ScottyMack

    It just goes to show you why the vast majority of people should not be voting. They are too stupid to make decisions that will affect the lives of everyone in the country.

    Through this kind of moronic thinking, any business that is more successful than others can be branded a “monopoly” even though competition clearly exists (albeit poorly run competition). Obviously, something got lost in their brains when they forgot that people are free to search wherever they want and that it is FREE. People pay money to buy things in department stores. By this level of “thinking” WalMart is also clearly a monopoly!

  • http://twitter.com/HyperTexted Kevin Gerding

    Let’s look briefly at some of the key places that Google comes into contact with consumers… Broadband (TiSP), mobile phones (Android), search, e-mail (Gmail), analytics, online antivirus (Virus Total), anti-spam solutions (Re-Captcha), etc. Anyone that understands how large of a footprint Google has over consumers, even outside of search, would easily come to the conclusion that Google is a monopoly. Joshua Wright’s opinion is either ill-informed or he has been bought and paid for. If the FTC is too inept to determine that Google is a monopoly, the agency should simply be abolished as it can’t perform its most basic function of protecting consumer choice.

    Global eCommerce is nearly a one trillion dollar a year industry. Anyone that thinks Google’s dominance in the eCommerce market is healthy surely needs to reevaluate their views. Whether it’s connecting to the internet, performing a search, or simply visiting a website, chances are a Google product is somehow connected with it. This has serious implications for the protection of our personal privacy and hinders the development of new technologies outside of Google.

  • ScottyMack

    Miriam Webster Definition of Monopoly:

    1: exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action
    2: exclusive possession or control
    3: a commodity controlled by one party

    None of the above apply.

    God help us all if some “International Consortium” becomes in charge of what individual websites can and cannot show. No … there won’t be any corruption involved there!

    Stupidest idea I have ever heard! Ironically, these tend to be the same people fighting against things like ACTA and other internet anti-freedom legislation.

  • ScottyMack

    Well, it would appear that Joshua Wright is more inclined to side with Webster’s. This all about lawyers trying to make a huge sum of money and has nothing to do with any basis of law at all. They just want to create enough noise that they’ll get their 30% of whatever settlement Google coughs up, as they almost always do. Of course, with judges writing their own laws from the bench and not following actual laws passed by legislators, anything is likely to happen – especially when an unelected government agency that is not bound by any laws gets involved.

    Every single aspect of Google’s business has competitors. I think I’m going to sue the guy who is number one in the SERPs in my market for not advertising my website. He’s monopolizing position one and I simply won’t stand for it!

    The part that I would find so funny if it wasn’t so sad is all the people – especially SEO’s – who are rooting against Google. Google loses, we all lose. They’ll just come up with another chunk of their page to squeeze more money out of us all. Eventually the search results will be 5 organic per page, then 3 and finally nothing on page one. Keep rooting against them people. Cut off your nose to spite your face!

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