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European Union Looks Into Google for Being Mean Again



This will be a bit of a rant so be ready. Here is the problem for me and it once again focuses on the European Union’s ridiculous notion that in a free market there is such a thing as too much success.

The EU allows anyone or any entity who wants to whine about Google’s ‘dominance’ the chance to fight against the search giant in the name of fairness. Fairness is just an ideal and a dumb one at that. Unfortunately, it seems that whenever anything is done by the EU or EC or whatever it is called, it is done with this concept as its basis.

News flash everyone. Life isn’t fair. I don’t say that lightly because I (like the rest of you) could complain about plenty of things that I have been ‘wronged’ by. I could but I also understand that things don’t need to be fair to be right. You may disagree and that is just fine but this notion of all things being equal and that there is a need to bring down the successful ones to the level of those who aren’t as successful is just plain stupid.

The latest version of this comes from complaints from Microsoft (Really MS? After all the years of running roughshod over people? Please!). Bloomberg Businessweek reports

Google Inc. is being probed by European Union antitrust regulators for allegedly discriminating against competing services in its search results and for stopping some websites accepting rival ads.

The European Commission will check whether Google “imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, preventing them from placing certain types of competing ads on their websites, as well as on computer and software vendors, with the aim of shutting out competing search tools,” it said in an e-mailed statement today.

Microsoft Corp. service Ciao from Bing, U.K. price- comparison site Foundem, and French legal search engine Ejustice.fr filed an antitrust complaint against Google in February. The antitrust probe adds to separate criticism from French, German and British data protection regulators over Google’s StreetView service that collects data from private homes.

This whole thing has been going on for quite some time with Foundem being part of from the beginning. They even got time in a New York Times editorial which drew the ire of industry insiders who called Foundem an SEO failure in their search for search neutrality.

Look, I am not saying that Google is perfect. They prove how far they are from that every single day. They have, though, done something really well (organized the world’s information to a degree) and actually really important (making sense of all this information to a degree). My question is at what point is it their responsibility to make everyone happy? I suspect that they don’t need to manipulate things to protect their business considering their competition is so inferior in most cases that even if people were to leave Google ‘on principle’ they would come crawling back because it works.

I am not advocating that Google gets free reign and gets to run everyone into the ground. All I am asking for people to stop whining. If you are getting beat then you either need to settle for your part of the market that likes you and uses your service or just get out. Business is for big boys wearing long pants and not whiners looking to hit the lottery through the courts. Until the EU understands that the world will never be fair there will likely be room for this kind of drivel to keep raising its ugly head.

Your take?

Update: Shame on me for not seeing this before but Danny Sullivan’s take on this whole thing is pretty funny.

  • http://www.hairdresserwebsmiths.co.uk Leo@Hairdresser Websmiths

    The ejustice story hit French SEOs back in February. I looked at their site back then: 50% of the pages where Google Personalized Search in an iframe; 40% were spam via XSS loophole, 10% was “unique” content. They were also using 3 title tags that were repeating keywords 2 or 3 times (and nothing else).

    Today, most of the XSS is gone from the index, only one title tag remains (they must have read my blog post about it) but most of their pages are still Google Personalized searches (around 75-80%). How can they expect to win a lawsuit when they use that much re-packaged content from the company they sue!

    • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

      Interesting. It’s just more evidence of just how pathetic the EU is. They are not looking into the validity of these complaints. They are just handling the complaint because it is against Google. These people are dangerous because they operate under the guise of protecting the people when all they are doing is protecting their own positions and doing nothing for the greater good. I hope the US doesn’t head in the same direction but who knows these days.

  • http://www.unitrade-bg.com Obzavejdane za Bania

    It is realy interesting issue! I am wondering how could the EU prove such a thing. It is very conditionally according to me!

  • Erica

    “These people are dangerous because they operate under the guise of protecting the people when all they are doing is protecting their own positions and doing nothing for the greater good”

    oh wait it reminds me of … ???

    well what can I say, this post is so…American! nothing else left to say really.

    Apart from

    “Fairness is just an ideal and a dumb one of that” – are you from the past?

    “News flash everyone. Life isn’t fair.” – New flash for you. That is why courtrooms exist and big corporations like Google can be sued.

    It was Microsoft who started it because they probably are the only ones who have leverage to do that.

    I am commenting on this just to provide an alternative point of view to those who just jumped in the field to know better, so forgive the clichés (as I forgave yours). Google rolled out Places to cut out the middlemen because they want to be The middleman. This way big websites which operate online and don’t have a physical location are basically cut out from the results; the original source of the service is pulled from the depth of the internets up ’till the first spots because they have a physical address; they will receive enough organic traffic and they wont need to offer “special” prices to middlemen anymore (whom they relied on for traffic before Places). This will ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers – fairsearch.org anyone?

    this is obviously a very stereotyped worse case scenario

    To be honest, I wouldn’t really call “pathetic” an organisation which investigates another on the basis of such allegations; however, Id call pathetic a country where you can sue a company because you spilled burning hot coffee on youself (duh). How about that?

    what can I say, with great power comes great responsability; there are a lot of risks ivolved in owning about 90% of a market share (that is the case in many coutries for google) – one thing to consider is not to abuse your position. Frankly, I was quite baffled by this post at first, then I realised it’s just the old school American way to success.

    Yours is a point of view and we all accept it; however, there is a very big difference between a thoughtful and considerate intervention and ridiculously old-fashioned and ugly piece of writing .

    • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Since I am an American (and I have been called ugly so you were beaten to the punch there) it’s the point of view I have. Considering how much of a train wreck most of Europe is I still don’t see much evidence for allowing sites that are not even players to bring such frivolous lawsuits. Looks like this kind of activity is the European version of an online hot cup of coffee suit. We all have our issues, right?

      Thanks again for contributing your point of view. At least we can still do that here in the states rather freely ….. for now.

      • Erica

        Agreed, but the point wasn’t really pointing out each other shortcomings, so I’m sorry if I gave that impression (after being called pathetic, dumb, ridiculous, stupid in a not so subtle way – and also a whining b*tch in between the lines, I think)

        In my opinion, investigating on a “near monopoly” state of things isn’t really the same as the hot cup of coffee lawsuit – that was what I was trying to communicate, Google *might* have abused its power and someone is looking into it…nobody says that the EU will bring G down and so on.

        frankly speaking, after seeing the quality of some serps, the government would just do what the weapon of choice would take ages to act upon (that might be a little extreme though)

        nice controversial post anyway