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back to article Google's 'power to switch off the lights in Europe' has 'chilling effect' - rivals

Google has the "chilling" ability to "switch off the lights" at web companies, claim rivals lobbying against the dominant search giant. They highlighted Google's decision last week to suddenly yank adverts from a popular price-comparison website, and argued such moves stall online innovation. And they want European competition …

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This kind of behaviour brings Robert Heinlein to mind

"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

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Pint

A particularly relevant quotation from Life-Line...

Not sure why it got so many downvotes, unless El Reg has a lot of commentards who dislike Heinlein on principle. In America, particularly, corporations nowadays do seem to have a remarkably outsized sense of entitlement that dwarfs anything expressed by the individuals clinging to the shreds of America's modest social safety net.

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Re: This kind of behaviour brings Robert Heinlein to mind

Investment. One Man One vote (you're not the man), and a few other sound bites are all examples of why competition is good and monopolistic leverageing is bad. That's not to say that a company that doesn't innovate and do their best to remain relevant shouldn't go bust. However they shouldn't suffer when the company that they rely on as the internet equivalent of the Yellow pages turns round and decides they want their business, so they can't buy any of the really prominent any more. Which is what's happening here. If Google promoted their services the same way that their competitors have to (traditional advertising, page rank scores, paid advertising, etc.) rather than just being automatically at the top and the most prominent thing on the page.

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Re: A particularly relevant quotation from Life-Line...

"unless El Reg has a lot of commentards who dislike Heinlein on principle."

I suspect that El Reg has a lot of commentards who dislike everything on principle.

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Re: A particularly relevant quotation from Life-Line...

@quxy. I downvoted for two reasons. The first is philosophical. I always downvote anyone who too lazy to have an opinion of their own but relies on Argument By Dead Person. The second reason is that the article is commenting on the EU not the US.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This kind of behaviour brings Robert Heinlein to mind

GOOGLE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!

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Childcatcher

Re: This kind of behaviour brings Robert Heinlein to mind

It brings to mind the comment that "Google may never have been a force for good, but have they now turned to the Dark Side?"

So it is.

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I wonder.

Do they expect the police to do the same? To call up and warn you that you're about to be arrested for [crime]?

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Re: I wonder.

It depends what the crime is, often people are asked to present themselves for arrest by appointment, if their alleged crimes aren't of a violent nature or likely to be a flight risk or a risk for destruction of evidence.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wonder.

In this analogy, the payday lender is the financial equivalent of a sex offender.

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@AC 16:38

>In this analogy, the payday lender is the financial equivalent of a sex offender.

but that's true, although the sex offender may have some shreds of empathy with the victim.

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Anonymous Coward

Not a particular google fan but

What, exactly, do these businesses want google to do differently?

Even I can see google tagging its own services, if i can see and accept this surely thats good enough?

All companies do the same thing, Apple yanks apps with no warning, at least google talks about what its up to rather than Apple saying nothing at all. Google is not especially evil!

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Re: Not a particular google fan but

They want them to stop being so successful so that everyone can have a go at Internet supremacy.

This just sounds like MS (and others) moaning that they didn't take the 'net credibly until it was too late.

I'm sure Google could scale back some of their integration in to everyone's 'net use, but it's difficult to say that they don't deserve their current position, given the innovations and effort they've put in.

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Re: Not a particular google fan but

They want them to stop leverageing their monopolistic position in one market (search) to advertise their products in a new market. They want to compete on a level playing field rather than having the 800lb gorilla having the ability to swat them into oblivion whenever it wants to.

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Re: Not a particular google fan but

What, you mean like the telcos did to independent ISPs when it was clear there was a market for the services?

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"Microsoft has a diametrically different view about verticals than Google,"

So does this mean that Microsoft is now the good guy? Only I can't keep up.

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Re: "Microsoft has a diametrically different view about verticals than Google,"

I was wondering about this one. I don't see how Bing shopping is so much more inclusive than Google shopping when it comes to third party price-comparison sites…

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Re: "Microsoft has a diametrically different view about verticals than Google,"

Sometimes I would welcome Google having a tick box to specifically remove price comparison sites from search results. If I'm after information and specs on a product, especially if I already own one, the last thing I want to have to do is wade through several pages of price comparisons to get to sites that might actually have the information I need.

Microsoft are only moaning because it's not them in the driving seat. They had plenty of years in that position with their own dodgy business practices to put down the competition, now they're on the wrong end of the boot.

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Re: "Microsoft has a diametrically different view about verticals than Google,"

Neither Google nor Microsoft are the good guys.

The trick is, which one of them has a billion PC owners by the balls, and which one is getting bawwed at by "vertical search" providers because these providers want to advertise for loan companies that target the most vulnerable people with almost criminal APRs?

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Re: "Microsoft has a diametrically different view about verticals than Google,"

>a tick box to specifically remove price comparison sites

Oh yes. And vacuous -strings-of-towns- ones. (http://www.britevents.com/whats-on/lincolnshire/guthram-gowt/?category=theatre etc.)

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Power to switch off the lights?

Number of very big issues here.

1) The site listed as an example did not follow the guidelines laid down by Google. These guidelines are extremely easy to understand and written for a layman (almost) This site do not count as a layman.

2) Sites listed in the organic search should ask Google to refund them the money they paid to be listed.

3) Its a private company, if you want to force them to change their product to suit your company and personal requirements, then I hope you don't complain when the same thing happens to your company.

We see this kind of stuff so often by Google's competitors, what we don't see are actual credible alternatives to Google's applications or even more simply, their search.

The moment someone forces Google to change the results of their search it looses all credibility. While Google may promote their own products we (the users) can understand this, the moment they start to play with the rankings of the competitors we no longer feel that the search results are based around an algorithm that counts up the various checks on a score card and gives the best possible result for a search term.

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Anonymous Coward

Butt-hurt Microsoft

Remember them, they used to have a monopoly, now crying because someone else is making better stuff...

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Re: Butt-hurt Microsoft

So, because MS used to have a monopoly it's ok for Google to abuse their market dominance? And it's ok for Google to try to crush MS' services and they should just shut up because they used to do that and were stopped from behaving in such a manner?

Your logic is piss-poor.

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Re: Butt-hurt Microsoft

It's perfectly OK for them to crush M$ services if they do so by making better products. It would not be OK for them to abuse their market dominance but Microsoft's band of brothers haven't actually presented any evidence that they have done so, merely screamed that they aren't playing fair.

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If you take BT as comparison example. BT was split up into the platform (OpenReach) and Retail arms, and had to compete fairly with other retail providers of broadband products.

The same could be done with Google, with Google's competing services forced to be treated as essentially external customers to the platform.

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"If you take BT as comparison example. BT was split up into the platform (OpenReach) and Retail arms, and had to compete fairly with other retail providers of broadband products."

If you believe that, you'll swallow anything. Having had some dealings with the internals, I'll believe OpenWound is is "split off" when it has separate shares and Board of Directors. In the meantime it's just doing the minimum possible to keep the regulator happy.

The difference is, people choose to use Google and there are freely available alternatives.

The fuss is because Google cut an advertiser without warning because they broke the rules they agreed to when they signed up - which also say they can be cut without warning for breaking the rules. They also reinstated the advertiser as soon as the problem was fixed. Contrast and compare with the ASA, who issue a slap on the wrist 3 months after the event.

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@Stuart Ball

If you take BT as comparison example, but then again, BT was a state monopoly (if you can ignore Kingston Communications), so that would be a terrible comparison.

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Re: @Stuart Ball

Ok, what about Bell?

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Re: @Stuart Ball

BT was NOT a state monopoly at the point it was broken up. The "Golden Share" had already been sold off.

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Trollface

A better example would be Microsoft's Enterprise, Operating System, Office, and CE business units.

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Times are changing in Googleland

And if you are a small company, not for the better. It seems search results are starting to favor large paying corporations and those that can game the system in huge ways. I had a specific search term on several of my sites and now that specific search has me on about page 10, when I used to be right up front. The difference? The market has shifted recently and one of the words in my multi-word term is hot and is a key term in a fast growing market. From a Google search perspective, I'm cooked. Oh, well, unless I pony up some big bucks for adwords and get in the game..... I'm cooked. Like any large corporation, Google isn't about information, it's about money and they will continually refine their products to make more of it. Just like I'm trying to do.

On a side note, and speaking of Google, I just tried to install the latest Adobe Flash upgrade and Google Tool Bar and Chrome was included in the install with no opt out possible. It was just being shoved down my throat. Once Google is on your machine, the real tracking begins. Not a fan.

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Re: Times are changing in Googleland

The opt out wasn't there because you mindlessly clicked next. It comes up in big shiney letters. "We would like to install google toolbar, click next to accept this, or click cancel to continue the intallation"

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Re: Times are changing in Googleland

"

The opt out wasn't there because you mindlessly clicked next. It comes up in big shiney letters. "We would like to install google toolbar, click next to accept this, or click cancel to continue the intallation"

"

If that's really how it is, it's clearly a cheap tactic meant to install without the user being aware. If replacing a checkbox opt-in with some phrasing that says "you must hit cancel to continue installing without this extra junk" is acceptable, then eventually this crap will get so obfuscated that you will need a lawyer to understand if the addon is going in or not.

"I understand that by clicking next I am not agreeing to the notion that I oppose the fact that adware will be installed now or at a later date and should I hit alt-F4, it will signify the opposite of that non-agreement."

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Re: Times are changing in Googleland

So are you saying that you have personally decided that users would prefer to visit your site than the other sites that are more popular, have more links to them and have spent much more on marketing?

You had a search term on your site that always had you...somewhere higher than page 10 and now you aren't it is Goggle's fault as they should have singled your site out and weighed it heavier against others as your site is more important?

Wow, by the sounds of it I would say Goggle's algorithm's are working fine as the key term is "hot and ... in a fast growing market" and you have tried to rest on your laurels and just expect no-one else to capitalise on it.

You don't have to pay for adwords - the guy at the number 1, 2, 3 etc slots aren't there because they paid for adwords. They might have paid for an SEO or a marketing team but not to get that number one slot. In fact for Google having their adwords customers always hitting number one is counter-productive as if they are the only bidder they are likely to drop that bid as they don't need it.

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Re: Times are changing in Googleland

That's the way all those toolbar installs word it, and amazingly I - and probably 000s of others - have been able to parse that sentence successfully and not install said toolbars.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: tricked into installing toolbars

I consider myself fairly competant at using Windows but with some software installations even I have to go "whoa, back that up a minute" when it comes to the part of them trying to foist a toolbar on me becaue they employ all the non-standard 'doublespeak' methods they can scrounge up to try and trick you into installing an unwanted toolbar, the kinds of tricks that a fair amount of computer users wouldn't understand what they're supposed to click and/or uncheck a box so that the toolbar(s) don't get installed, toolbars that often take over your browser's homepage and default search results which changes the end users experience of the internet (well often they think the internet comprises of just the web) and they can't always figure out what happened and how to remove the annoying barnacle.

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Re: tricked into installing toolbars

I've accidentally installed the Ask toolbar that comes with Java updates before now, thought "oops" and gone back and uninstalled it. Now I know it's going to try, I go much slower through the update process. However, expecting a user to click 'cancel' to continue is definitely out of order, somewhere on a par with clicking the Start button to close down a computer...

I don't want any add-on toolbars on my browser.

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Payday Lenders are scum

Cry me a river. They didn't comply with Google's policy, which they have very right to enforce and now they think they are "special?"

They are loan sharks. May the bastards rot in hell.

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Re: Payday Lenders are scum

I'm playing AC because I've seen these "sharks" help a few of my friends (not exactly scum of the earth, just hit upon hard times due to a death in the family) in times of need, but could you justify your statement please?

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Re: Payday Lenders are scum

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2252368/Payday-lender-hounded-suicidal-dad-repayments-recovered-hospital--clawed-cash-times-just-day.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21683739

Not all of them behave like this, and yes there is an argument that for some people they are a useful adjunct to the mainstream credit industry, for those on low incomes who have histories of being poor with credit, they're a nightmare.

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Re: Payday Lenders are scum

Isn't that particular company buying adverts on TV?

Just where does their money come from? I'm a bit doubtful that they earn a huge wodge of wonga from Google-supplied adverts on their web-pages. And I know that some insurance companies, in their adverts on TV, make a point of telling us that they don't appear on price-comparison websites.

At least those meerkats are fun.

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FAIL

FUD

... coming from Microsoft ? What's new...

Moving on.

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Re: FUD

What's new?

Oh, nothing that the 1990's wouldn't recognise....

Already Moved on...

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Price comparison sites

Oh come on since google cracked down on price comparison sites its results are usable again. It had got to the stage where the damn things were filling the first few paves of results so you had to dig to get a useful result.

I couldn't care what google does provided there are no price comparison sites in the first 10 pages of my search results. As to advertising adword results etc google makes it easy to ignore thus and i don't recall ever clicking on one.

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Anti competitive abuse of market position

Ignoring the payday loan issue for a moment try searching for "compare car insurance".

After the 2 sponsored links you get Google's compare service. To me that's an abuse of market position.

Surely that's what the article is highlighting.....even if it's muddying the message with the example used.

Of course you and I realise what's going on but we aren't most users. ;-)

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Holmes

Microsoft is dead...

Long live Google..

YAMSP

(yet another monopoly service provider).

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Advertisers and shills, who gives a fuck?

It googles site, they can do what they want, why shouldnt they promote their own services or have they become a charity now?. Theres plenty of other search engines out there for people who dont like it.

And the removal of useless `price comparison` links from the top results is a gift from the gods. Having to scroll through that shit to find proper, relevent links was a pain.

Payday loan companys?, fuckin parasites sucking the life and taking advantage of the poor and vulnerable, theres one advertising on the telly with a 3000+% apr, how is that even legal? I really wont shed a tear if they just dissappeared, not only from google but the entire planet, utter scum.

Oh and streetmaps is crap, id much prefer google`s offering to come top in the search thank you very much.

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Re: Advertisers and shills, who gives a fuck?

And Microsofts operating system was theirs, surely they could add whatever they wanted? But no. had to treat other media companies (ie.real player and others) and web browsers (ie.mozilla). Whats good for microsoft should be good for google.

Governments did it with Bell, BT and Telstra - all private companies, the latter two which were sold off by Governments at that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Advertisers and shills, who gives a fuck?

You DO NOT need to use Google for Search.. you have the choice to use Bing. Yahoo! etc.

MS had dominance in the Desktop PC market through years of abuse of their position.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Advertisers and shills, who gives a fuck?

You DO NOT need to use MS for Desktop .. you have the choice to use Linux, BSD, etc.

Google had dominance in the Search through years of abuse of their position.

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