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

    The problem for the FTC, and the many small businesses in the United States, is that the FTC must rely on antiquated antitrust laws dating back to the late 1800s. Such laws originated at a time that horse and buggies still were a popular form of transportation.

    You bet Google is favoring its verticals. But the FTCs failure in pursuing revisions to laws to better enable them to protect our economy in the digital age is a fault that falls right in their own laps. Legislators, to concerned about being re-elected and pleasing lobbyists, have also ignored antitrust laws and have allowed what began as a fair marketplace to become Google’s pot of gold.

    We now live in a time when many businesses have dumped their $10,000 a month Yellow Page book listings because few consumers use the book anymore. Consumers use Google. With one algorithm update, or a stroke of a key, Google can set standards and set policy that significantly impacts businesses not just in the USA, but across the globe as well. I’m surprised Google does not have a seat at the World Trade Organization to be honest.

    Although reports vary, Google controls 65% of the search market. Combine this with the other properties that Google owns (YouTube, etc.) and the amount of traffic under Google’s control is so substantial that it can’t be ignored by any responsible Federal agency or legislator that is concerned about free markets.

    Despite the fact that the FTC has outdated laws that leave them at a disadvantage, it’s important that they pursue the complaints of small business owners that Google’s verticals have pushed them out of the search results. This can be witnessed not by just Adwords ads, Google images and Google shopping, but the many clustered YouTube videos that dominate the first page of the search results for many queries.

    One thing is certain. Google will capitalize on the upcoming holiday shopping season in the United States. Many small businesses, which depend on these holiday sales to keep them going throughout the year, will surely fail. If the FTC does nothing, consumer choice and innovation outside of what Google dictates to the world will erode even further.