SEMPO To Feds: Hands Off Google

The search trade association SEMPO sent a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz asking for regulators to restrain their urge to regulate Google. In the letter SEMPO argues “Free-market innovation in the Search industry is a key element in ensuring that the Internet continues to serve humanity’s needs as our reservoir of vital information and empowerment. No one will be well served if this innovation dries up or is stifled by regulation.”

The letter presents a range of arguments, some of which have previously also been made on this site, about the dangers of regulating the SERP. It’s an impassioned plea for a “hands off” or “free market” approach.

The problem, however, is that numerous publishers and third parties are calling for regulation. Today Barry wrote about ShopCity, a Canada-based local directory site that has filed an antitrust complaint against Google. It’s just the latest in a series of complainants to argue that Google is acting in an anti-competitive way.

It’s increasingly unlikely that Google will escape the antitrust investigations in the US and Europe completely untouched and unscathed. What I would envision, however, is some process-oriented approach that allowed companies to complain about what they perceived to be unfair practices and have some redress without involving regulators in direct oversight of the SERP or Google’s algorithm. Sempo Search Regulation Arti

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | 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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  • http://europeforvisitors.com Durant Imboden

    Remember the SearchKing case? A federal court ruled that Google’s “PageRanks” were opinions and therefore were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That’s a pretty compelling argument against regulating how search engines come up with their rahkings, at least within the United States.

    Also, how would forcing Google to serve up inferior search results help end users? Antitrust law isn’t about crippling successful, innovative businesses and boosting their inferior rivals; it’s about protecting the consumer. Requiring Google to index stubs, autogenerated spam, and other junk pages might be a windfall for Google’s competitors, but it would be a disservice to the public.

  • TimmyTime

    Dear SEMPO, remove the “Sponsored by Google” from your site until the FTC reads your letter :)

    —–”Remember the SearchKing case? A federal court ruled that Google’s “PageRanks” were opinions and therefore were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That’s a pretty compelling argument against regulating how search engines come up with their rahkings, at least within the United States.”

    It’s that simple with anti-competitive action, otherwise (just one example) Microsoft can ban sites from Windows using that excuse.

    FTC can try to completely separate Google search from the rest of Google for example. Let’s see if Google Search will use Google Local as two totally separate companies.

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