The United States Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from small business and website owners showing evidence that the Silicon Valley Giant and friend of the president tips the scale of its search results in favor of their bottom line and against “search neutrality.”
Google, who has privately funded efforts to promote “Net Neutrality,” is anything but neutral when it comes to competitors. Google is placing links to its own consumer-review website in “the most prominent position” regardless of whether they are the most relevant to a given search, said Yelp Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Stoppelman, whose company’s website features reviews of local businesses.
Despite denials from Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt companies like Yelp pointed out that Google has taken content from the company’s website without permission presenting it as its own. “Google is no longer in the business of sending people to the best sources of information on the Web,” Stoppelman said. “It now hopes to be a destination site itself for one vertical market after another, including news, shopping, travel, and now, local business reviews.”
Jeffrey Katz, chief executive officer of NexTag, a comparison-shopping website said in his prepared testimony that “Google rigs its results, biasing in favor of Google Shopping and against competitors like us.”
These accusation put Schmidt on the defensive arguing against government action — but that may be a first. Thanks to Schmidt, Google has grown into a advocate for bigger government. As mentioned above, Google has pressed government regulation of the Internet. The company, thanks to its connection with the Obama Administration, has been the recipient of numerous government contracts. And just this past weekend, Schmidt pressed for more government action on the economy arguing on the Sunday Shows for more stimulus funding.
Google is trying to make nice with Republicans with donations to the Ripon Society and the hiring of Republican K-Street insiders. But Republicans should not be fooled. The company and its leadership have made a strategic decision to grow their relationship with the state. It’s hard to argue the government should regulate the Internet but should not look at your business practices. Yet that is what Schmidt and company are trying to do.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) deserves credit for willing to stand up to the Google juggernaut. This is just the first look at the company. From violating users privacy to stealing their intellectual property rights to the push for government contracts, Google has plenty to examine. With 80 lobbyists on retainer, he has shown his independence. The Senate should continue to look.