OBAMA AND GOOGLE
October 29, 2009
Founded just 11 years ago, Google has emerged as one of the most innovative and disruptive forces in global business, and it is looking to dominate across a range of technologies. But Google's ambitions rankle big competitors in the tech, media, and communications sectors, and privacy hawks are starting to fret about the company's growing market power and its Big Brother-like trove of information, which, left unchecked, could be used in all sorts of questionable ways. Google's foes, which include battle-hardened regulatory veterans such as AT&T haven't been shy about nudging their friends in Washington. And so the company, once virtually invisible in Washington, now finds itself in the cross hairs of regulators and lawmakers, says Fortune.
- Google wants laws or rules that would bar network operators from interfering with or prioritizing the content that runs on their systems.
- Google may win this one: Obama, his FCC chair, and his deputy CTO share Google's proneutrality view.
- Google is in the business of gathering scads of personal information about its users, which worries privacy hawks.
- The Federal Trade Commission has begun a privacy review of behavioral advertisers, and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) has called for legislation to regulate digital ads, which could hurt Google's ability to monetize products like its search engine and Gmail.
- Obama's new antitrust chief, Christine Varney, has begun an investigation into whether Google's plan to create a worldwide digital library is a threat to competition.
- The move sets a precedent for investigating "unilateral actions" -- antitrust cases that don't involve mergers.
- The FTC has been looking at Google's close relationship with Apple.
- Since the inquiry started, two Google board members have resigned from the Apple board.
- Still under review: allegations that the companies have agreed not to hire each other's staffers.
Source: Jia Lynn Yang, Nina Easton and Maha Atal, "Obama & Google (a love story)," Fortune, November 9, 2009.
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