Report: Google Now Master Of Lobbying, Backroom Dealing

google-legal-law-featured An article in the Washington Post asserts that Google has now become a master lobbyist and behind-the-scenes manipulator in Washington. It details the company's increase in campaign contributions and outreach efforts to influence legislators. The message of the lengthy article is that Google is now buying influence and policy outcomes that favor the company. Source: Washington Post There are numerous concrete examples cited for the idea that Google has manipulated policy outcomes or bought influence through contributions to individuals, third party groups or academic institutions. [...]


EU Antitrust Chief Says Google Settlement Essentially Done

google-eu-featured Amid criticism from politicians and Google's critics, EU antitrust chief Joaquín Almunia has essentially said that the current version of Google's antitrust settlement proposal is a done deal. While he didn't rule out changes definitively he seems to think complainants' criticisms have been addressed. The current proposal requires Google to give up considerable screen real estate and branding to vertical rivals. Google's opponents want another "market test" (time for criticism and study of the proposal's potential impact). They also don't want to pay Google for placement in contex [...]


EU Settlement Nearly Done, Google Antitrust Drama Shifts To India

Google legal Although the Google antitrust settlement in Europe isn't final it appears we're in the final minutes of the final act. There still may be a surprise or two in store but we mostly know how this story is going to end. Now it appears the Google antitrust drama is shifting to India, where an antitrust investigation against the company is ongoing. According to a report in the Times of India, that country's competition authority, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), has the power to impose a fine of up 10 percent annual revenues, averaged over a three year period. That could mean up t [...]


Will 11th Hour Objections Derail The Google-EU Antitrust Settlement?

Google Europe When the European Commission recently announced yet another antitrust settlement with Google the matter appeared to be coming to an end. This was the third proposed settlement from Google but indications from EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia suggested that it was essentially final and only formalities remained to approve it. Unlike the two previous settlement proposals, this one is reportedly not going to be subjected to a "market test" (formal review by rivals and critics) -- although the European Commission will be accepting comments, apparently. Google's critics immediate [...]


It’s Done: Google Settles Search Antitrust Case In Europe

Google EU Roughly a year after Google settled an antitrust investigation with the US Federal Trade Commission, Bloomberg is reporting that Google and the European Commission have reached a final settlement that would end the regulator's antitrust search investigation against the company. According to the report, "Google will escape fines or any finding by regulators that it may have discriminated against competing search sites." Google similarly escaped any significant fines or penalties in the US investigation. The heart of the controversy as it has evolved -- and the core of the settlement -- is [...]


Report: Google Close (Again) To EU Antitrust Settlement

Google EU The third time may be the charm. According to Reuters Google is (once again) "close to settling a three-year antitrust probe by European regulators after it offered 'much better' concessions" to the European Commission (EC). However Google has been here before. Two previous antitrust settlements were strenuously opposed and thus defeated by Google critics and competitors. As part of that lobbying campaign several sponsored studies were issued, which uniformly found the core of Google's settlement proposals -- prominently showing links to rivals' results -- would have little or no impact on [...]


EU Wants More Search Concessions, Google Defies French Authority

Google Europe Round and round she goes. The European Commission is seeking a final round of "concessions" from Google in an 11th hour effort to settle potential antitrust claims against the company. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia made public statements asserting that Google needs to deliver additional, revised proposals within weeks to avoid a formal antitrust proceeding. What we have now is a kind of high stakes game of chicken. For well over a year there has been a very public back and forth between Google, the European Commission and Google's rivals, who object to the various proposals [...]


EU: Google Antitrust Concessions “Unacceptable” As Second Study Condemns “Rival Links”

google-eu-featured European Union competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced Friday in a Spanish radio interview that Google's second round of concessions in its current antitrust settlement proposal were "unacceptable." The main obstacle to settlement is still Google's treatment of competitors and its "own content" in "vertical search" results. Almunia was directly involved in negotiating the original settlement proposal with Google, which offered to put links to competitors' sites in a privileged position in search results. He seemed initially (and perhaps naively) surprised when it was almost imme [...]


Sponsored Study Argues Google’s “Rival Links” Don’t Drive Enough CTRs To Rivals

Google EU flag Google's original antitrust settlement proposal, negotiated with the European Commission, was attacked by Google competitors and critics as being a token concession to competition. Anti-Google lobbying group FairSearch.org sponsored a consumer study that argued Google's presentation of three “rival links” to competitors in search results did little to drive traffic to competitors' websites. In September Google presented a second settlement proposal that made new or additional concessions. The second proposal was immediately attacked as well. Now a second FairSearch-sponsored research [...]


The Test Begins: Do Google Shopping & Other Shopping Search Engines Give You The Best Deals?

google-shopping-products-featured It sounds pretty damning. Two recent surveys suggest that Google Shopping isn't leading searchers to the best prices on products. But the surveys weren't well documented, nor did they include competitors like Bing, Shopzilla, PriceGrabber and Nextag, which have similar issues. So, Search Engine Land will be running its own fully documented tests. Every few days, we'll search for an item and show what we found, starting with today's test, a search for a toaster. Testing For The Low Price Vs. Featured Price This is a long story. It's designed to be that way so that people can understand ex [...]


Dear Google Rivals: Do These New Proposals Solve Your Antitrust Concerns? Love, The EU

google-eu-featured Three years into its investigation of Google over antitrust issues relating to search, the European Union took another step closer toward a likely resolution, asking Google rivals and other third-parties to review a settlement proposal. Notably, the general public wasn't invited to participate. The news comes via several reports today. The European Union's Competition agency posted nothing on its website, though the move follows on what it promised to do earlier this month. The Wall Street Journal and Reuters say that 125 companies have been asked to comment on the latest proposal, in [...]


New Google Antitrust Offer A “Significant Improvement” Says EU

Google Europe After Google's competitors loudly complained about the company's antitrust settlement proposal, which displayed three "rival links" to alternative' search results, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said it would take new "concessions" for Google to successfully settle its antitrust case with Europe. Google has now reportedly made those concessions. Almunia characterized Google's updated settlement offer, submitted last month, as a "significant improvement." According to a Reuters report, "Almunia told lawmakers in the European Parliament he believed the new offer made i [...]


Could You Walk In Google’s Shoes? Making Tough Calls With Search Listings

It's pretty easy to sit back and slam Google for how you think it should make decisions when it comes to search listings. It's much harder to actually make those decisions, when you have a deeper understanding of all the implications involved. To experience this better, here's a chance to put yourself in Google's shoes and make some of the tough decisions. Below is a video from a special session we did at our SMX West search marketing conference earlier this year. Patrick Thomas, Google's search policy specialist and Matt Cutts, the head of Google's web spam fighting team, suggested a v [...]


With Amazing Chutzpah Google Claims It Can’t Be Sued In UK Courts

Google legal Last year Google was embroiled in controversy over its circumvention of the Safari browser's cookie-privacy settings (on the iPhone and beyond). As a result the company paid a $22.5 million fine to settle the case with the US FTC approximately a year ago. The FTC summarizes the facts that lead to the settlement: [F]or several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google’s DoubleClick advertising network, although Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of [...]


Revealed: The 17 Other Search Engines The FTC Warned Over Paid Ad Disclosures

ftc-featured In June, the US Federal Trade Commission warned seven "general purpose" search engines -- including Google, Bing and Yahoo -- about the need to ensure they were properly disclosing paid ads. But 17 other "specialty" search engines were also warned. Which ones? The FTC wouldn't say. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, Search Engine Land can now reveal the names. Our story from June -- FTC Updates Search Engine Ad Disclosure Guidelines After “Decline In Compliance” -- explains the warnings that were sent in more detail. At the time, the FTC said that AOL, Ask, Bing, Blek [...]


FTC Updates Search Engine Ad Disclosure Guidelines After “Decline In Compliance”

ftc-building-featured In 2002, the US Federal Trade Commission issued landmark guidelines to search engines, to ensure they were make a clear distinction between their paid and unpaid listings. Now, the FTC has updated those guidelines, saying it has seen a "decline in compliance" since they were first issued. The FTC posted the news today on its site, along with letters that were sent to over 20 general-purpose and specialty search engines. The move comes just over a year since I wrote to the FTC noting that there were several compliance issues I was seeing with search engines and its guidelines. In part [...]


Google To State AG’s: We’ve Blocked Over 3 Million Bad Ads From “Rogue Online Pharmacies”

google-cop-police-featured As part of its response to a potential subpoena by the Mississippi attorney general and accusations from The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) earlier this month that Google facilitates the sale of drugs without a prescription, among other illegal transactions,  Google legal director, Adam Barea, says the company has blocked or removed from its systems more than 3 million ads by suspected "rogue pharmacies" in the last two years.   The current complaints from the State Attorneys General focus primarily on Google allowing illegal sites to show in the organic search result [...]


Mississippi Attorney General To Subpoena Google For Illegal Sale Of Prescription Drugs

google-legal-law-featured Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood will subpoena Google records and emails to determine if Google facilitated the sale of drugs without a prescription and other illegal products, including counterfeit copies of movies, games and music. "Google is aiding and abetting criminal activity and putting consumers at risk," says Hood, "This is of grave concern to the chief law enforcement officers of this nation." The attorney general heads an intellectual property section of the National Association of Attorneys General and is urging other attorney generals to follow his lead. According to a [...]


State AGs: Google Still Allows & Profits From Illegal Drug Ads

Google legal The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is accusing Google of continuing to give consumers access to illegal and counterfeit goods -- including drugs -- in its search results, and is allowing sites that deal in such goods to advertise with Google. NAAG has asked Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page to discuss its concerns at a national meeting of state attorneys general that's happening June 17-19 in Boston. There's no formal statement that I can find on the NAAG website, but both USA Today and the Mississippi Business Journal are quoting that state's AG, Jim Hood, co-chair [...]


EU Says More Google “Concessions” Needed Before Antitrust Settlement

google-eu-featured The vigorous lobbying efforts of Google critics FairSearch.org and Foundem's SearchNeutrality.org seem to be paying off. Earlier today EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told members of the European Parliament that additional "concessions" would probably be required of Google to settle the antitrust investigation against the company and avoid litigation and potential financial penalties. According to Reuters, Almunia said the following: After [all the settlement proposal feedback is received] we will analyze the responses we have received, we will ask Google, probably, I cannot an [...]


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