Senate Panel to Question Google on Web Search Supremacy

Monday, 19 Sep 2011 11:53 AM

By Greg McDonald

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A Senate subcommittee will face off against Google Inc. this week in an effort to determine whether its Internet search engine formulas are really serving consumers or threatening competition among businesses.
 
The Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing Wednesday to question Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt about how the company decides to rank search returns and whether it pushes its own products up in the rankings over others.
 
According to a report Monday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, complaints against Google have increased from companies that say their business has fallen off because Google is constantly changing and tweaking how it delivers search results.
 
Not turning up on the first page of search results, one small Minnesota pool company told the newspaper, can mean a drop off in business of 50 to 60 percent.
 
Robert Birge, chief marketing officer at the travel site Kavak.com, said one of the biggest complaints is that Google often puts its own products in direct competition with the companies it ranks on its search engine.
 
It’s a problem, he told the newspaper, because Google dominates the Web search market over Yahoo, Microsoft’s Bing, and other search engines.
 
“Google search is the Main Street of Internet business,” Birge said. “The question is whether they leverage their monopoly to put their own store fronts in front of others.”

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