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Google Accused of Interfering With South Korean FTC Investigation 186

New submitter DCTech writes "South Korea's Fair Trade Commission is accusing Google of methodically interfering with an anti-competition investigation into Android. 'Google deleted files and made its employees work from home in an attempt to frustrate the investigation, alleges the commission in an interview with a South Korean newspaper [machine translation]. The non-cooperation allegedly came after Google's Seoul office was raided by the commission's officials in September. The anti-competition probers were looking into whether Google's Android phones unfairly prioritize Google search and are "systematically designed" to make it difficult to switch to another option'. Now the South Korean watchdog is considering maximum fines for Google's non-compliance. Google is currently under investigation for similar anti-competition issues in Europe and the U.S."
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Google Accused of Interfering With South Korean FTC Investigation

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  • by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:12PM (#38638856)

    The responses to these stories are always interesting. Because it's Google, there will be criticisms of the South Korean commission and questioning of their claims. If this was Microsoft, however, the accusations would be taken at face value as more proof of Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior. Google is being investigated all over the world for anti-competitive behavior, but you can't even suggest that Google has a monopoly on web search around here without getting pounded with downmods. Even the lead counsel who prosecuted Microsoft in their antitrust case believes Google is a monopoly [cnn.com].

    It seems as if some people just can't believe that Google would ever do anything wrong. This isn't the cute little search engine from 2000. They went public and became an ad company; 97% of their revenue comes from web advertising [gigaom.com]. But I think they're really good at appealing to tech communities, using feel-good phrases like "openness" to make themselves more endearing to those demographics.

  • by na1led ( 1030470 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:15PM (#38638902)
    It seems that every Big Company eventually turns evil at some point.
  • Re:Groan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DCTech ( 2545590 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:18PM (#38638944)
    Just like you could download any other browser on Windows. And that still doesn't change the fact that Google is working with manufacturers to keep competitors away. Google also owns AdMob, which specializes in mobile advertising and has 90% market share. That's a huge monopoly. And Google has used their monopoly to restrict advertisers from using other platforms for the same ads if they want to use Google's ad platforms. That's outright monopoly abuse.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DCTech ( 2545590 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:21PM (#38638994)

    It still blows my mind that anyone would want to use Bing anyway.

    There's actually many slashdotters who suggest using them. Now, they suggest using DuckDuckGo, but as DDG uses Bing back-end the results are the same. Of course for Slashdotters if it's Microsoft it sucks, but if it's basically the same but they don't figure out it uses MS back-end, then it's superb. Go figure!

  • by lorenlal ( 164133 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:22PM (#38639018)

    1) It took a long time for Microsoft to run through its goodwill and become the monster it is today. We all hated IBM back in the day... Perception changes slowly.
    2) Now that Google has a "monopoly," they're still trying to add products to the marketplace. They're still trying to make their existing products, services, and everything they do better. Compare that to Microsoft and IE6, which set us back at least 4 years in the web space. Name me 1 (as in a single) feature Microsoft introduced to comply with standards or make our lives any better between Netscape dying and Firefox showing up.
    3) Google doesn't have a slimy history of creating contracts with PC makers excluding the bundling of products that aren't made by Google. Microsoft leveraged their market position in search to hold PC makers hostage, and kill products that competed with Office. Show me a case where Google did any of that, and I'll eat my words.

  • by merchant_x ( 165931 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:24PM (#38639054)

    Even Google admits that they are probably in monopoly territory. Monopolies are not illegal though. Abusing your monopoly position to inhibit competition is illegal.

    If you don't want to get down-modded perhaps you should point out areas where you think they have abused their monopoly position rather than just say "see, Google is a monopoly!"

    Microsoft are convicted monopolists and there are numerous examples of the anti-competitive behavior. Point to Google's ant-competitive behaviors then perhaps there can be a discussion.

  • by Chibi Merrow ( 226057 ) <mrmerrow AT monkeyinfinity DOT net> on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:26PM (#38639088) Homepage Journal

    That's funny, until I rooted it, my Motorola Backflip would ONLY let me use one search... Bing.

    What are these guys smoking?

  • by DCTech ( 2545590 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:30PM (#38639134)

    3) Google doesn't have a slimy history of creating contracts with PC makers excluding the bundling of products that aren't made by Google. Microsoft leveraged their market position in search to hold PC makers hostage, and kill products that competed with Office. Show me a case where Google did any of that, and I'll eat my words.

    That's what the whole story is about. There's also another such thing, and it's why EU is investigating Google for monopoly abuse. Most slashdotters stupidly think it's because of their search engine and users, but it's not, because you're not Google's customers. EU is investigating Google for disallowing advertisers to run same ads on competing ad networks. Since Google maintains such a huge market share in online advertising, that is outright monopoly abuse. Google is directly leveraging it's market position to kill competing ad networks.

    Interestingly, recently Google changed their "Ads by Google" advertisements on websites to AdChoices [bytelib.com]. This is the very exact "soft" approach Google takes. Use cute and soft names and marketing. Hey, it's AdChoices, so there's clearly choices for advertisers! On top of that they wanted to change it from "Ads by Google" because all those advertisements were hurting Google's image. Not to worry - Just change it to different name and now people don't directly associate with the clean Google anymore!

  • by Saishuuheiki ( 1657565 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:36PM (#38639206)

    "Google denies that its employees deleted documents or that it instructed them to work from home in order to impede the investigation."

    Only evil corporations have their employees work from home...

    And everyone knows the damning evidence wasn't there because they deleted it.

    If there were real consequences this might matter

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:38PM (#38639242) Homepage Journal
    There has never been such cases about them. they didnt have to be raided, they didnt have to delete files to escape investigation ........ they just dont get investigated. microsoft got bothered approx. 2 times in this entire 30 year period in its history. nothing more. freaking 30 years, total domination of personal computer compatibles, and just 2 times. one is the ie thing, and the other is eu's browser ballot box.

    and dont get me started on apple.

    maybe google also should start buying representatives and bureaucrats ........
  • History repeats (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:39PM (#38639244)

    Just like you could download any other browser on Windows.

    But you couldn't uninstall IE because it was a "vital part of the OS" (at least until they were forced to). You could also install any office suite you wanted, but only MSOffice had access to hidden APIs that made it run at a decent speed (a huge advantage in the early days of Windoze). Despite all that (and plenty more), Microsoft ended up with a slap on the wrist that didn't even pay for a fraction of the costs the DOJ put into the investigation. I suspect Google will end up the same and once again the taxpayers will get the bill for some ambitious government lawyer's need to make a name for himself.

  • by AlecC ( 512609 ) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:46PM (#38639330)

    The government's monopoly on the use of force. Having competing private armies would definitely be a bad thing.

    Linus Torvald's monopoly on the name "Linux".

    The IETF's monopoly over Internet standards.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:55PM (#38639436)

    That's bullshit. There was never any good will to run through with Microsoft. They've been crap from day one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:56PM (#38639458)

    If Fandroids looked in the mirror once in awhile, they would see that they have become the fanboys they hate about apple.

  • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:57PM (#38639464)

    Both MS and Apple have been repeatedly investigated by the EU. MS has had a trial in the US (which they lost). Apple was investigated a time or two, but not so much for monopoly practices (which is reasonable, given that they don't have one). Just because SK hasn't done so (and I don't know they haven't), means nothing. Governments rarely bother investigating trade practices of any corporation unless someone complains.

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Monday January 09, 2012 @01:57PM (#38639472)

    Or, in short, Microsoft used up all of their goodwill a long time ago. Google hasn't - yet. Geeks are skeptical by nature and are willing to give a company or person that is fundamentally good the benefit of the doubt.

  • by oxdas ( 2447598 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @02:01PM (#38639538)

    I hate to reply to myself, but I am mistaken. After further consideration, I think this is about monopolies. This about South Korean search monopolies Naver and Daum losing marketshare because Google Android directs mobile searches through their portal. This is South Korean using the law to try and protect Naver. I wonder what Samsung thinks of Naver pushing around their partner?

  • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @02:22PM (#38639760)

    2) I don't know what timeline you want, since Firefox showed up in Feb 2004 well before the end of Netscape in 2008. But let's pick 1998 as your "Netscape" year, since that was when the source code of Netscape was abandoned.

    1999 -- Microsoft introduces "AJAX". It made our lives significantly better. (or at least, it was what turned the Internet from Web1.0 static pages into Web2.0 interactive pages).

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Monday January 09, 2012 @03:27PM (#38640590) Journal

    I'd like to know when this whole "Treat corps like ballclubs" shit started and can we all just stop it please? I use products from dozens of companies but frankly i don't give a shit if they go up, if they go down, as long as it does what i want it to I'm gonna use it. If a company acts like a prick, like Intel with their compiler rigging and bribery? i just don't buy their product, is that so damned difficult?

    And lets get one thing clear, okay? GOOGLE IS A MONOPOLY when it comes to search PERIOD. You don't have to have 100% of a market, merely be able to cause significant changes in that market. Apple is a monopoly when it comes to PMPs with the iPod having close to 90% of the market, that makes them a monopoly. MSFT is a monopoly when it comes to desktops and Intel is damned close to a monopoly on x86. Does that mean we should break out the pitchforks? Noooo, what that means is these corps need to be watched like a hawk because a monopoly gives a company enormous power which they can then use to slaughter competition. They can try to block competitor's products like the famous "Windows isn't done until Lotus won't run" or in this case give away a product (similar to how MSFT gave away IE) and use it to further lock in their market.

    So can we please stop this "All go to hell except for cave 76!" bullshit and just accept ALL corporations are neither good nor evil and are nothing to be rooted for or booed, but simply should be monitored to make sure they don't use their power to destroy the free market? Doesn't that sound nice and rational?

  • by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @04:41PM (#38641684)

    Yes, but google is a monopoly because people fucking navigate under their own fucking free will to their website and run a search. Why? Because THEY FUCKING WANT TO RUN THEIR SEARCH ON GOOGLE!! ZOMG! Do they want Bing? No. Do they want Alta Vista? No. Do they want Dogpile? No. Let's stop pretending this is AT&T or Microsoft where everyone got locked in by chance and they no longer have a choice. A lot of established businesses are upset because Google ganked their industry due to their superior innovation. Notice the attack on Google while all kinds of assholes run rough shod over other aspects of our lives. Who's beating down Verizon's door? Who's kicking in teeth on Wall Street? Where is the big investigatory hoopla aimed at Congress? Let Google dominate the world of search information and ads. Out of the regular people in the world who is it going to hurt? Hell, Google is handing the average Joe a piece of the advertising world cake. I make money serving a couple measly Google ads on my website. Years ago the money I make would have landed in the coffers of a multinational publishing conglomerate. You people and your Google bashing suck dick. STFU!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @05:43PM (#38642564)

    But remember folks, Apple is the one with the fanboys!

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Monday January 09, 2012 @07:07PM (#38643890) Journal

    And people buy Windows computers because they want to run Windows programs, and they buy Apple devices because they are slick...is there a point there junior? Or was the foam spewing from your mouth so badly you had to write "All go to hell except cave 76!" so damned badly you couldn't think?

    I'd like to thank you though, you gave almost a texbook typical fanboi response and your post should be used as a great example of treating corps like ballclubs. But I hate to break the news to you, but Google is NOT your friend, they are NOT "for" you, and if they could make an extra 15% by having you assraped by gorillas you'd be getting some gorilla loving at this very moment. The ONLY people Google is for is Google, no different than IBM, or MSFT, or Apple, or Oracle, or any other tech company. So stop treating them like a fucking ballclub, okay?

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"