Robert Thompson, who is the chief executive of News Corp, has written to the European Commission to lambaste Google’s search engine, calling it a ‘platform for piracy’ and demanding that action be taken to reduce the company’s dominance in the search market and enforce more stringent controls on what content a search can pull up.
In a letter to competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia, Thompson also claims that the company spreads malicious networks and that it’s power base is increasing every day, at the detriment of its rivals.
Cynical minds may see this as a way for News Corp to begin attempts to enter the search engine market themselves, as the company has previously been rumoured to show interest in Google’s rival Yahoo.
However the company is not the only one to criticise Google’s dominance of the European market, as Microsoft and German publisher Axel Springer have also claimed the company is anti-competition. While some would argue that Google’s 90% share of the search market in Europe could be considered a monopoly, others may point to the fact that competitors do exist in the form of Bing and Yahoo and nothing is stopping customers from using those platforms, suggesting that Google is used more often because it is considered to be the superior product.
Ironically, while calling for tougher sanctions on the content that Google displays, Thomson added that “The internet should be a canvas for freedom of expression and for high-quality content of enduring value. Undermining the basic business model of professional content creators will lead to a less informed, more vexatious level of dialogue in our society.”
Recent anti-trust investigations into Google lead to the company proposing a settlement that would allow rival services to purchase space at the top of search results. However it was argued that Google would favour its own service in this case and would then simply take money from their rivals without offering a return.
The company denies that it favours its own products in search results however this latest letter may come as a blow to the company nonetheless. The insinuations that the company is being purposefully malicious with its search engine results sounds patently wrong to anybody who has used them and the company has always maintained that it simply collects data and provides results for search terms, while having no control of the content of websites returned in searches.
Should the European Commission agree that the search giant is providing a ‘platform for piracy’ you have to wonder what action will be taken against Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing search engine as well. After all, it is not difficult to find pirated content on these platforms either and any action levied against Google would surely have to be levied against its competitors in this regard as well.