US consumer group demands break up of Google

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US consumer group demands break up of Google

A US consumer rights group has called on the attorney general to begin an anti-trust action against Google, in another move underlining growing unease with the search firm's dominance of the market.

John Simpson, consumer advocate at Consumer Watchdog, said in a letter to the US Department of Justice (PDF) that Google should be broken up into smaller units, such as YouTube and Gmail, or regulated like a public utility.

"Google benefits from anti-competitive practices and a monopolistic position in internet search in ways that harm potential competitors and consumers," Simpson wrote.

"Its dominant search position allows it to charge high advertisement prices, and it uses these monopoly revenues to subsidise its other lines of business.

"Consumers ultimately pay these monopoly ad prices when they pay higher prices for the goods and services advertised."

Simpson also claimed that Google's 70 percent share of the search market gives it undue power over businesses with its algorithm functionality, and denies consumers a fair choice.

"How Google tweaks its proprietary search algorithms can ensure a business's success or failure. Google's business practices to maximise profits determine much of the internet experience for consumers by determining what they view," he said.

Simpson has called for regulations forcing Google to open up its ad platform to allow rivals to compete on a more equal footing.

Google is already facing an official European Union investigation into its business practices demanded by Microsoft and others.

The Department of Justice has opposed Google's Books project, and the company's planned acquisition of mobile advertising firm AdMob is currently under scrutiny.

Google was contacted for comment but had yet to reply at the time of publication.

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