Google seems more and more to lose its innocence. While it has a high profile supporter in Obama and the backing of the Democrats, powerful enemies are gathering for the kill – speak maybe even a breakup of the company. Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein compiled an article for Wires (see link below) charting Micro$oft’s successful campaign to torpedo the proposed business deal between Google and Yahoo!. And the coalition that Redmond had assembled has taken on a life of its own ever since, with Thompson and Vogelstein expecting the anti-Google campaign to intensify in 2009, focusing on painting the company as a threat to personal privacy. And the Department of Justice’s threat to invoke anti-trust legislation to break up Google is also still on the agenda.
Google basically seems to be under attack on four fronts:
- The company’s purchase of DoubleClick and its formerly proposed Yahoo! deal causes competitors and major advertisers cry wolf over fears of world domination of the advertising market (main enemies: US Association of National Advertisers, Micro$oft, WPP Group).
- Google argues that new chunks of radio spectrum should be opened to the public, which of course does not make telcos and broadcasters happy who like their quasi monopoly position (main enemies: AT&T, National Association of Broadcasters, Verizon).
- Google thinks all information is created equal and favors laws forbidding Internet service providers from determining how fast content from different providers will download. ISPs, not surprisingly, beg to differ (main enemies: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon).
- Google’s insatiable hunger for data scares even some of its allies. Now its business rivals have launched a privacy crusade to drum up fears that Big Brother lives in Mountain View (main enemies: AT&T, Center for Digital Democracy, Micro$oft).
I have always been rather skeptical about Google’s claim that it does no evil; at the same time all its commercial enemies of course have their own evil business interests at heart. And I am convinced that in the end it doesn’t matter who wins the various fights between the giants – the public will gain no benefits in terms of what really matters – which are the non-monetary things that truly enhance life, like individual and community wellbeing, peace or lifestyles that sustain the planet. Sure, it’s great for example to have free and fast access to information, but who manages the information content? What is its purpose: creating critical awareness or showering us with commercially exploited propaganda that ensures the illusion that all is fine in our ‘civilisation’. Therefore, while the Wires article (and all the others below) make intriguing or at least interesting reading, it really is all spin.
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