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NYT Welcomes FTC Google Probe, "Increased Level of Scrutiny"

The New York Times today, in an editorial, said “The Federal Trade Commission’s decision to open an investigation into potential anti-competitive or deceptive practices at Google is a welcome move… the public’s interest lies in ensuring fair competition in this fast-changing arena.”

The editorial goes on to say:

“There is no conclusive evidence that Google abuses its dominance in search by putting its own services, like YouTube, at the top of search results while shoving down competitors. Nonetheless, its aggressive expansion into new businesses, coupled with its ability to determine the all-important order of search results, warrants an increased level of scrutiny by regulators. Each new venture gives Google a new reason to use its tools to shut out rivals.”

FairSearch.org would disagree with that first statement, of course – there’s plenty of evidence that Google abuses its dominance by putting its own results at or near the top of the first screen of most search results. Google itself came clean on this in 2007 in announcing its policy of “universal search” (for newcomers that means that Google universally places its own products at or near the top of a page of results, pushing down all other parties).

Importantly, the editorial cites the complaint by Skyhook Wireless as an example of Google possibly using its dominance to exclude competitors from the smartphone market.

Of course there’s plenty more evidence of Google stifling competition in the multiple other complaints, raised in the U.S. by MyTriggers.com, TradeComet.com and SourceTool.com, and those lodged in Europe by Foundem (FairSearch.org member), Ciao, and Ejustice.fr among others.

The editorial sums up the importance of the U.S. federal probe in its closing: “The F.T.C.’s investigation should look into Google’s behavior across all its businesses… Google, however, is too important to most people’s Internet experience for regulators not to examine its behavior.”