Google and the Internet Bed it Made — Contortions of Justifying a Google Exemption From Principles

Google strongly legitimized the problem of “search neutrality” in arguing in detail in an FT op-ed today why Google’s search should not be neutral.

  • The essence of Google’s search neutrality problem is that they are imploring everyone to do what they say, but not what they do.
    • (And Google does have a very big problem when the New York Times writes an editorial: “The Google Algorithm questioning if Google’s search “leads us fairly to where we want to go.”
  • Google’s search neutrality problem is also entirely of their own making.

As one of the first to regularly document Google’s systematic hypocrisy of saying one thing and doing another, and demanding its competitors operate in ways Google is unwilling operate, it is important to address the sincerity of Google’s arguments against being subject to “search neutrality” by governments, as explained by Ms. Mayer, Google’s VP of Product and User Experience, in her FT op-ed: “Do not neutralise the web’s endless search.”

  • Innovation: Google argues search neutrality mandates could stifle its innovation.
    • However, Google has summarily dismissed that same innovation problem argument made by its competitors as the lead bankroller and lobbying force for the last four years behind the push for preemptive “net neutrality” mandates and Title II Telephone monopoly price and non-discrimination regulation for all broadband providers.
  • Abuse: Google argues that antitrust oversight of search would lead to gaming of the algorithm and harming the consumer experience.
    • Google’s argument is a straw man, as there are a number of internal controls, and third-party/Government oversight processes and procedures that could address anti-competitive or deceptive business practices without the full disclosure of Google’s trade secrets.
    • Everyone knows there are business confidentiality rules the government follows that can easily address this Google concern.
  • Commoditization: How can Google argue that an expectation that Google not use its monopoly power to discriminate against non-Google-owned content would result in commoditization, when Google argues that mandated monopoly non-discrimination regulation of its competitive broadband competitors would not result in commoditization?
  • Consumer Choice: Google argues that antitrust oversight of the neutrality and fairness of its search results would undermine consumer choice and search competition.
    • The problem is that, despite arguing that Google works for users, Google gets paid by advertisers and publishers — not users.
    • Google has a standard “Competition is One Click Away” defense that is bogus because the anti-competitive problem results from the Internet Choice Paradox, where consumer have great choice of digital information providers, but digital information providers face a Google bottleneck in reaching the global Internet audience.

In sum, Google’s self-proclaimed “search neutrality” problem is entirely of its own making.

  • It has been caught in its own “don’t be evil” net, and its own longstanding, well-documented, and principled public stances arguing for world neutrality, openness, transparency, and no censorship on the Internet.

Google’s bigger problem is that it has little credibility in arguing that all the rules that Google has sought to burden its competitors with should not apply fairly to Google, when Google is caught doing what Google has long argued is wrong.

  • No PR contortions from Google’s legendary PR machine, can get people to support principles, laws, and regulations that apply to everyone… but Google.

 

 

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