Politics

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
antitrust, ftc, jared polis

Companies:
google



Jared Polis Tells FTC To Back Off Google Antitrust Investigation

from the waste-of-government-resources dept

Colorado's Jared Polis is likely a familiar Congressman to our readers. He was one of the key voices in Congress against SOPA. He's also been one of the few members of government willing to speak out against all of the problems in the domain seizures that have occurred. Now we learn that his pro-tech stance over government-meddling continues with a strongly worded letter to the Federal Trade Commission over its investigation of Google for antitrust violations.
At a time when the national economy continues to stagnate, it's not clear to me why the FTC should be focusing on a product that consumers seem very happy with, search engines. While Google is surely a big company and an important service in peoples' lives, my constituents also use a variety of competing services, including Amazon.com for shopping, iTunes for music and movies, Facebook for social networking and recommendations, and mobile apps like Yelp for finding local businesses. Competition is only a click away and there are no barriers to competition; if I create a better search algorithm I could set up a server in my garage and compete globally with Google. To even discuss applying anti-trust in this kind of hyper-competitive environment defies all logic and the very underpinnigns of anti-trust law itself.
His admission, that Google is indeed a massive entity, likely is designed to push back against the FTC for targeting Google specifically in the search space, despite the relatively high level of competitive search engines on the market. Antitrust violations are not designed to punish really successful companies, and they're not supposed to just go after companies for being "big." Rather, they're designed to prevent anti-competitive practices for the benefit of a healthy marketplace and, most importantly, for the benefit of consumers. While the country is still waiting for the official charges against Google by the FTC over any kind of anti-competitive behavior, there can be little doubt that there is indeed a swath of competition and that the public is pleased with Google's product. It's not like Bing and Yahoo (or Blekko or DuckDuckGo) don't exist, after all, it's just that more people trust Google for their search results. None of this seems worth pursuing an antitrust suit over. As Polis notes:
I have never heard one of my constituents say that they don't feel like they have enough choices online, or that they feel locked in to using any one of these services. Competition among these services is leading to lots of great services for consumers -- and consumers aren't asking Congress or the FTC to protect them.
Indeed, it only seems to be Google competitors who are asking for help here. And that's not the purpose of antitrust law.

Having said all that, Polis went further in his letter, issuing a warning to the FTC that if screws this up, it risks being downsized.
The FTC should tread carefully when reviewing Google, Facebook, Twitter or any other tech company, given the dynamism of our tech industry and the potential for making things worse through regulation. Today's giants can be tomorrow's failures without any government intervention; market forces drive obsolescence at a break neck pace which should only further abrogated the need for government intervention. I believe that application of anti-trust against Google would be a woefully misguided step that would threaten the integrity of our anti-trust system, and could ultimately lead to Congressional action resulting in a reduction in the ability of the FTC to enforce critical anti-trust protections in industries where markets are being distorted by monopolies and oligopolies.
Critics of Google will point to this as some kind of hinted blackmail by Polis, but that isn't at all what he's saying. All he's saying in this instance is that if the FTC brings a poor case against Google and loses face over it, the representatives of the people (whom government is supposed to serve) will take action. It's a warning that the FTC had better have its ducks in a row when considering such a move against a huge member of the national business community.

In the end, we'll have to see if any actual anti-competitive practices by Google are really brought forth. Barring that, Google simply being really successful is no reason to bring an antitrust suit against them.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2012 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Corporatized Freedom

    "That post isn't trolling -- it's actually very accurate."

    No, not a single one of OotB's comments on this site, in any article, has EVER been even remotely close to accurate, much less have something resembling a fact contained therein.

    "You just don't like that someone is attacking your precious Google, despite the fact that they're basically useless dead weight on the web."

    Mike has himself written articles attacking Google and being critical of Google and various things they've done.

    No one here has a problem with critiquing Google or being critical of some of their actions, it's when people like OotB or bob or a few ACs write things that are not based in reality that people have a problem. More so when it is quite clearly their own opinions they're trying to present as facts.

    "There's a superior alternative for every service they offer, but you're too balls-deep to care."

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    Gmail. There are alternatives, are any superior? Hotmail. Spam central. Yahoo. Meh. (They're even trying to copy Gmail with their Ymail thing.)

    Google Drive (formerly Google Docs). Now it's more storage, of which there are a great many competitors. Dropbox being the standout, but it's not without its flaws.

    Youtube. There are alternatives, none that match Youtube though.

    Google+. The alternative used by most is Facebook. Is it superior? As I said before, purely subjective. Most people on Google+ are there because they dislike Facebook (that's the common opinion/consensus).

    Android OS. There are a handful of alternatives. iOS being the only other dominant player. Superior? Again, purely subjective.

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    There are alternatives to Google products/services, but to say they are superior is to state ONLY your opinion (which appears to be based purely on your hatred of Google and nothing a little more substantial like facts/evidence).

    All this is off topic a bit though. Basically, everything written by OotB in that comment is false. Everything he writes about Mike, false. Proven by articles on this site.

    "- Mike appears to worry about (economic) freedom for corporations ONLY. "

    Lol. Mike has written numerous articles about freedoms regarding people and how they're being violated. As well as articles on where some freedoms are more clearly defined.

    As for (economic) freedom, he's also written articles about people in such regards. So again, this is OotB writing something that is proven false.

    "- Mike appears to never worry about corporations doing evil."

    LMAO. Mike has tons of articles criticizing corporations for making decisions that harm the public. As well as articles criticizing governments/laws putting the needs of corporations above the wants/needs of the people.

    He's written numerous articles criticizing Google. Just fyi.

    "- Mike expresses only the typical views of his technocrat class, no surprises."

    This is only true in OotB's mind, no one else's. Mike's views range and differ from people in his "technocrat class". Else he wouldn't have trolls show up here regularly.

    "- It's far simpler to ask "what's the harm?" than show how corporations always tend to evil."

    What? Mike quite clearly writes about the harm caused by corporations on a regular basis. Again, proof shows how false this is to say.

    "- The limited range of politics and economics discussed these days is astonishing to the dwindling few of us who watch with just a little bit of historical perspective."

    This site is called "Techdirt". It's going to focus on things specifically related to a limited range. So there is no limited range per se. You want to discuss more? There are other sites, as well as the option to submit stories.

    You just don't like that Blue got reported for being off topic and completely wrong like usual. You also have a very clear bias against Google.

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