Friday, May 22, 2009

Trustbusting Google

Rumors abound regarding the Obama Administration’s new chief antitrust enforcer, Christine Varney, who appears ready to file anti-trust against Eric Schmidt and GoogleCo:

"""Google’s corporate behavior is already being closely monitored. Last year, Google abandoned a planned search advertising partnership with Yahoo after the Justice Department said it intended to file suit to block the agreement on antitrust grounds. Google has 64 percent of the Web search market in America, while Yahoo has 21 percent and Microsoft 8 percent, according to comScore, a research firm.

In recent weeks, antitrust officials have opened two inquiries. The Justice Department is looking into Google’s settlement with authors and publishers for its book-search service to see if it violates antitrust laws. And the Federal Trade Commission is examining whether Google’s sharing two board members with Apple reduces competition, because both companies offer Web browsers and phone operating systems.

Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said this month that the close scrutiny was not surprising. “Information is incredibly important, and we should expect governments around the world to pay attention to what we do,” he said.

Google’s power is a cause of worry in many industries — media, advertising, telecommunications and software. Yet being large, successful and ambitious is not an antitrust violation. “You’ve got to be big, and you have to be bad,” observed Andrew I. Gavil, a law professor at Howard University. “You have to be both.”

Google corporation certainly rates as sufficiently Big and Bad (as does yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, HP, et al). Eric Schmidt, the JP Morgan of the search engine biz, "works" as CEO of Google AND as one of Apple’s Board of Oligarchs Directors. Most of the online scuttlebutt specialists (i.e. the usual academic economists advising against it) claim it won’t go. The Clayton Act-–passed under Woody Wilson I believe, and quite a progressive piece of legislation–-supposedly prevents execs from sitting on BODs of multiple companies, yet be assured Google has some ueber-attorneys who will weasel out of it, assuming Miss Varney or whoever decides to push the issue.

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