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Consumer Travel Alliance on Google: "Consumers are Being Misled Today and Tomorrow"

The Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA) is praising Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) for their letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging an investigation into Google’s anticompetitive behavior and raising some serious concerns about Google’s entry into online travel search. In a blog post entitled, “Google shows its hand with Flight Search, the power of monopoly,” the consumer group writes:

Google Flight Search, at first only providing glimpses if itself if one searched for it has now come front and center. If anyone had any doubt that Google is skewing its “search” results to help itself, there cannot be any doubt now…

Under the guise of airline search, Google is presenting self-serving results with the intent to put competitors, who once paid them for ads based on search, out of business.

Worse, the Google Flight Search result that sits at the top of the faux search results isn’t even labeled “advertisement,” which it sure as heck is. Consumers are being misled today and tomorrow, after Google puts competitors out of business, they will find themselves being fleeced.

The group also noted it had raised the issue with the Department of Transportation, saying “Google’s control of search and their announced limits on airline flight search constituted a form of screen bias aimed at the public” and encouraging DOT to examine the issue “in terms of their mandate to protect the public from unfair and deceptive practices.”

CTA applauds the Senate antitrust subcommittee’s leadership and closes with a strong observation:

Google has crossed the creepy line, as Google Chairman and Former CEO Eric Schmidt calls it. The forces of the government, slow to move into action, will now begin the series of studies and hearings that hopefully will change the face of Google and separate its search functions from its retail arm. The free market and consumers will be better off once this unholy union of search knowledge with retail power is broken asunder.