Originally published: September 21, 2011
Last updated: September 21, 2011 - 9:45pm
The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights held a hearing examining the market power of Google.
Lawmakers praised the company’s growth but expressing concern that its dominance in search and expansion into other areas might harm smaller competitors. Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) began the hearing by stressing he entered the discussion about Google’s potential anti-competitive behavior “with an open mind,” but he also labeled Google "dominant and powerful." Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) went as far as to claim Google "cooked" its search results to favor its own offerings. Google Chairman Erik Schmidt testify and said the company understands its critics’ concerns, even if it does not plan to make significant changes to its search system. "We get it," Schmidt said. "By that I mean that we get the lessons of our corporate predecessors. We also get that it's natural for you to have questions about our business." "What we ask is that you help us ensure that the Federal Trade Commission’s inquiry remains a focused and fair process, so that we can continue creating jobs and building products that delight our users," he continued.
Even after proclaiming, "I love Google," Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) criticized Schmidt for being dodgy on the company's placement of its own services in Google search results. "That really bothers me, because that's the crux of this. And you don't know. So we're trying to have a hearing here about whether you favor your own stuff, and you're asked that question, and you admittedly don't know the answer."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said it appeared that Google both owned the race track, ran the races, owned the horses, placed the horses, and appeared to be winning the race. Sen. Franken added that he forgot to add "doping the horses." Schmidt said the analogy was all wrong, suggesting Google was more like a GPS service for the geography of the Web. Sen Blumenthal suggested Google has some work to avoid government intervention in their business, which he was not advocating.
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