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.