Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Google and anti-trust

My paper for this year's Communications Policy and Research Forum is titled Competition Policy for the Digital Economy. One factor that motivated the topic is how so much of new economy business consists of very distorted market structures with single very large firms and certainly nothing like the many small firms of competition theory.

Google is now having its turn in the spotlight, as the New York Times reported today (repeated in the AFR) on a forthcoming Senate hearing.

The Senate hearing is political. The real action is occurring in an FTC anti-trust investigation launched in June.

The issues Google faces are multitudinous. Of course, each and every acquisition has raised competition issues. More recently the concern is whether their Search product favours Google's own products over others (I guess without showing them as ads like happens to others) and the suggestion that content on other sites gets "scraped" into Google sites.

I believe there are big anti-trust issues here but that, just as with the Microsoft case, the investigation and resolution will be long and intractable. The bad news as ZDnet reported is the impediment the overhang could create for other IT development.

I happen to believe we need a new approach to competition policy that has a different array of analytic tools and remedies than currently applies.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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