Consumer Watchdog Urges European Union to Block Google, Motorola Merger

Paul Lilly

John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project, inked a letter to Mr. Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the European Commission, voicing his organization's concerns over "Google's ongoing anti-competitive behavior," which includes the search giant's proposed $12.5 billion merger with Motorola Mobility. The nearly 3-page letter criticizes Google's business behavior in detail with a particular focus on why Consumer Watchdog feels the merger with Motorola should be blocked.

"Google’s Android smartphone operating system dominates the mobile market with a 38 percent share and is growing. Apple’s iPhone has 27 percent. Google controls 95 percent of the mobile search market," Simpson states in his letter (PDF) . "There is evidence it is pressuring handset manufacturers to favor Google applications when using the Android operating system. Google’s earlier acquisition of AdMob gave the Internet Giant dominance in mobile ad sales. Allowing the Motorola Mobility deal would provide Google with unprecedented dominance in virtually all aspects of the mobile world – manufacturing, operating systems, search and advertising. It would be a virtually unstoppable juggernaut. We urge you to block the deal."

The Motorola merger isn't the only thing Simpson wants the Commission to turn its attention to. Consumer Watchdog also voiced serious concerns over "the way Google uses search to unfairly promote its own properties and damage competitors," such as the recent 'Search, Plus Your World' initiative in which Google+ results are integrated into Google searches.

Consumer Watchdog proposed several remedies to fix what it perceives as a great imbalance in the power of the Web. One of those is to break Google up into different companies. Alternately, Consumer Watchdog says it would be beneficial to draw up regulations to open up Google's ad platform to enable other competitors to compete and craft rules to create greater transparency. And of course the organization would like to see Google nailed with "financial penalties... significant enough to impact Google's future behavior." Simpson didn't propose a specific financial penalty, but did say "Google hardly blinked when it paid half a billion dollars to the United States to settle an illegal drug sales case."

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