FairSearch - for the right result

Lee: Fears Confirmed after Schmidt Testimony

At Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) wasted no time in voicing his concerns with Google and its current practices, suspecting the Internet leviathan had “cooked” its results to turn profits for its own gain and at the detriment of its users.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt stumbled over the Committee’s questions, refusing to give a clear answer. After listening to Schmidt’s evasive responses, Senator Lee was deeply troubled, saying, “some of my fears I have to say, have been confirmed as a result of our conversation.”

Lee was most distressed by Google’s skewed results –ones that put Google’s own offerings in the most eye-catching areas of the search engine’s results page. This, he said:

“seems to me to leverage Google’s primary search dominance, to give its own secondary services in listings an unnatural and extraordinary advantage. No other specialized business or search site can hope to compete on anything close to a level playing field when Google uses its significant market power to disadvantage online competitor, [creating a] clear and inherent conflict of interest.”

Google’s self-serving algorithm comes with dangers – “rather than acting as an honest broker of information,” said Lee, “Google now has a strong financial incentive to channel users to its own listings, regardless of their quality.”

And that’s what we call “The Google Problem.”

Lee, the Subcommittee’s ranking member, emphasized that free markets and fair competition must, now more than ever, be protected:

“As a conservative Republican who favors free markets, I believe that ensuring robust competition in this critical area of our nation’s economy will benefit consumers, it will spur innovation, and it will lead to job creation. In this instance, I believe that preserving competitive markets through antitrust principles can help forestall the imposition of burdensome government regulation.”

Stay tuned to see if Schmidt and Google heed the Senator’s call…