back to article Watchdog calls for Google break-up

A California-based consumer watchdog called, er... Consumer Watchdog is calling for a Department of Justice investigation into Google. The group, supported by mobile entrepreneur Simon Buckingham and lawyers for two price comparison websites, praised the DOJ for its action against Google Books and the FTC probe into the …


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  1. EddieD

    Won't happen

    Google will use it's financial resources to tie this up for years and years...the only folk who will benefit will be lobbyists and lawyers.

  2. Uk_Gadget

    Monsters opps Google Inc....

    What is the problem. It's about time only a few companies 'OWN' the world. Sigh...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Like that will ever happen...

    Maybe I'm stupid, but why would Google not be allowed to pay for non-search stuff through profits from search advertising? Isn't that like saying McDonalds can't subsidise the cost of a meat-substitute-filled sandwich from the larger profits they make on soft drinks?

    Anon - in case I really am stupid and get flamed, and then I'll join in the flaming below...

  4. Paul Wilzbach

    look if you want but don't touch

    Google is a lawful monopoly with no lock in. End of story.

  5. Rob Crawford

    This irritates me

    People choose to use Google.

    It's not like the old BT or Bell monopolies where you had no choice about where you bought your phone service from.

    There are alternate services to choose from and you can even use Google to search for them.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accurate characterisation?

    There seems to be some question as to whether Consumer Watchdog is in fact a consumer watchdog, or a branch of a lobbying firm.

  7. OSC

    A bit more research reveals...

    ... that things are not all that they seem. According to some, " is apparently a lobby used by Microsoft (mostly to attack Google)"

    This report is over a year old:

    While I remain open minded about whether I can trust Google as far as I can throw them, I'm more certain regarding Microsoft.

  8. toughluck
    Thumb Down

    That's just fantastic

    I just love this double standard. On one hand, you are urged to be successful in what you do. On the other hand, if you're "too" successful, the likes of those watchdogs will want to punish you for trying.

    This is ridiculous. Google built an empire of its own from scratch pretty much without any competition. Now that their business model is proven and successful, freebooters want to just copy them and get rich in the process. But one after another fails and then blames Google (rather than their ineptitude and lack of originality and distinguishing features) for that fail.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Well, since the Public does come first,

      It could not be denied

      That in matter such as this,

      The Public must decide.

      So, antitrust now took a hand.

      Of course, it was appalled

      At what if found was going on.

      The “bread trust,” it was called.

      Now this was getting serious.

      So Smith felt that he must

      Have a friendly interview

      With the men in antitrust.

      So, hat in hand, he went to them.

      They’d surely been misled;

      No rule of law had he defied,

      But then their lawyer said:

      “The rule of law, in complex times,

      Has proved itself deficient.

      We much prefer the rule of men!

      It’s vastly more efficient.

      Now, let me state the present rules,’

      The lawyer then went on,

      “These very simple guidelines

      You can rely upon:

      You’re gouging on your prices if

      You charge more than the rest.

      But it’s unfair competition

      If you think you can charge less.

      “A second point that we would make

      To help avoid confusion:

      Don’t try to charge the same amount:

      That would be collusion!

      You must compete. But not too much,

      For if you do, you see,

      Then the market would be yours –

      And that’s monopoly!”

      Price too high? Or price too low?

      Now, which charge did they make?

      Well, they weren’t loath to charging both

      With Public Good at stake!

      In fact, they went one better –

      They charged “monopoly!”

      No muss, no fuss, oh woe is us,

      Egad, they charged all three!

      “Five years in jail,” the judge then said,

      “You’re lucky it’s not worse,

      Robber Barons must be taught

      Society Comes first!”

      Now, bread is baked by government.

      And as might be expected,

      Everything is well controlled;

      The public well protected.

      True, loaves cost a dollar each.

      But out leaders do their best.

      The selling price is half a cent.

      (Taxes pay the rest!)

  9. max allan

    I thought Americans liked success

    Unlike the UK where success is normally hated, I thought the Americans were normally in favour of it.

    "Google accused of using it's profit from search to pay for other areas of the business" ? I think they'll probably plead guilty to that one, considering it's not really a crime to use profits for R&D and development of new business...

    So, they've got a monopoly. That's because they're good at what they do. If someone else was even remotely near as good, then it could be a 2 horse race.

    I like the idea of a nationalised search engine. I can just imagine UK gov's attempt to make a search engine. Then each country would start only running their own search engine for their own population's contributions....


  10. Neal 5

    The end of the world is nigh,

    The great capitalist nation fighting possibly the Worlds 2nd most capitalistic company, perhaps instead of a breakup, how about a merger with goldman sachs. Plenty of fraudulent profit opportunities there for both, The American Dream, if you like.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Google exerts monopoly power over Internet searches ?

    Like how, anyone can freely choose what search engine to use and unlike MS, they are unable to make Bing the default search engine on every new iteration of Windows.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I couldn't agree more

    Nationalise them

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Did Microsoft Hire Consumer Watchdog to Attack Google?

  14. Alan Plastow

    Good PR - That's about it...

    Recipe for bringing your obscure watching the poodle group out of their isolated little doggie house? Pick a large and successful enterprise - especially one that actually delivers value to the consumer - and fire off a fantasy press release. Ensure that your scope of statement is partially plausible but completely bazaar in it's foundation claims.

    The media will ensure that world reads a path to your screen door.

    Recipe for complete failure and corporate collapse? Publish something intelligent....maybe even try recommending something that contributes to the quality of life of those consumers you are "protecting."

    1. gerryg

      Did you mean...

      "Ensure that your scope of statement is partially plausible but completely bazaar in it's foundation claims"


  15. JA575


    Gee, it's just too damn bad now isn't it? A couple BRIGHT ENTERPRISING people get together at the early stages of the Internet and form a search engine that just happens to become one of the greatest SUCCESS STORIES in history.

    And now some BOGUS, STUPID, LIBERAL CONSUMER WATCHDOG LEFT WING ORGANIZATION (the type that HATES successful FREE enterprise) who is NOT SMART ENOUGH to FAIRLY COMPETE against Google has decided to cry foul play. Isn't that just grand!

    And who do they go running to with their sniveling runny noses? The Federal government, so BIG BROTHER can step in and dry their runny noses and stick THEIR NOSE into LEGITIMATE PRIVATE ENTERPRISE.


    The consumer watchdog 'organization' should go back to hugging trees and decrying global warming, BUT STAY THE HELL OUT OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE AND AWAY FROM GOOGLE and any other legitimate FREE ENTERPRISE.

    It is LIBERAL SCUM like these types of organizations that are ruining America. These organizations, plus labor unions, trial lawyers, and left wing nutcases that believe America owes them a living and the government should just hand them everything at the expense of those who get out of bed every day to EARN a living. Since they obviously don't like it here, why don't they just leave, and stop sucking off the government tit.

    As a disclosure, I do not work for Google. I am not a shareholder in Google. I have no direct or indirect financial or any other interest in Google, EXCEPT seeing that it is allowed to continue to enjoy its HARD EARNED success FREE from the HEAVY HAND of government and without having to spend its hard earned money on defending frivolous legal actions bought against it by STUPID organizations claiming to be pursuing the public good in the name of consumer protection. What consumers need is protection from these liberal lunatic, UN-AMERICAN leftist organizations!

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge


      For FOTW, that is. Some misspellings thrown in for good measure might have helped, but overall you've got the style *down*.

    2. Will 28

      I think I must be missing something

      I keep wondering with posts like these whether I'm not quite getting it. I find myself trying to spot the code hidden in the set of randomly capitalised letters. Perhaps I'm supposed to be including the letters that follow where a full stop should have been.

      whatever it is, It is beyond me. Kudos to you for inventing such a subtle form of communication. Hide a message in plain sight, where no investigators would have the patience to read - brilliant!

      I guess I'm just not on your intellectual level.

    3. Flybert


      I'm an American Libertarian ( Go Ron Paul ) and while I totally agree .. got to say that was quite a rant for an El Reg comment considering how often comments here by UK *progressives* deride the USA.

      At least we still, for the most part, have freedom of speech and presumption of innocence .. you poor chaps are already living in tyranny, though we are damn close here if the American people don't wake up .. like right NOW !

    4. moiety

      Also, this being mainly a British publication...

      ...albeit with a US wing, your assertion that LIBERAL SCUM are ruining America meets with less sympathy than you might get if you tried it in -say- an American publication. Ditto with your claim of the liberal, lunatic, leftist organisations being UN-AMERICAN. Kudos for the alliteration, but being UN-AMERICAN is almost a competitive sport round here.

      A good effort, but a proper FOTW needs more misspellings, lots more swearing, and ideally a religious or nazi reference. Thank you for playing.

    5. Tony S


      You need to up your dose of Prozac. It's Monday morning; how are you going to make it to the end of the week without having a stroke?

      BTW, it appears that they are not so left wing as you might think - they might actually be working for Microsoft. Think of that; one giant monoply complaining about another giant monopoly. Truly the American dream!

      And I would also like to recommend this post for FOTW. We haven't see one for a while.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Just chill...

      A Google breakup ain't going to happen. To think all that Google have achieved over the years - I remember searching using Altavista and Yahoo. Google is used as a verb here.

      Love the CAPS btw.

    7. mhenriday

      «LIBERAL SCUM» ?

      Who - Microsoft ? Better watch your step, «JA575» -them's fightin' words and Redmond ain't short of lawyers !...


  16. Kelvari
    Black Helicopters

    Monopoly by choice

    Google may have reached a monopoly status, but they became such because people CHOSE to use them. If you don't like them, then use one of the other search engines out there and a different free email provider. There's even different video sites out there than YouTube.

    Microsoft became a monopoly by FORCING their products onto OEMs, with severe penalties and such for allowing any non-MS OS to be sold as an OEM option. They didn't earn their monopoly status - they bought it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Well Google is the dying dino,

    With the latest announcement of Facebbok like buttons -- they will be in a position to take over the entire display adverting market. They announced a search in facebook, personalized with what your friends found useful -- surely a worry in Mountain View, and furthermore the -- sponsored by microsoft who clearly want one or two over google.

    Google is the dying dino here -- Facebook is the one which people should be worried about -- this is just adding insult to injury.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nearly got away with it!

    Gee it was all going hunky dory until they brought out Buzz.

    The manner of, and the sheer cheek in which they totally abused our privacy rights really brought them into the headlights main beam.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    What about Microsoft?

    Microsoft should have been split into three separate companies years ago: office software, desktop OS, server OS. Now you probably break off Internet search, as well.

    Black helicopter as I little hope of hiding.

  20. Goat Jam
    Gates Horns


    If there is a tech company on this planet who can hold business and consumers around the planet to ransom, charging non proportional and extortionate prices for sub-par products then it is . .

    . . . Microsoft.

    Before we start calling for the breakup of Google, perhaps Microsofts attack dog "Consumer Watchdog" should consider the behaviour of their lords and masters, whose business interests are far more broad ranging and place for worse financial burdens on people around the globe.

    Nobody is forced to use Google. People ARE forced to pay for MS products.

    1. Ben Holmes

      Re: LOL

      "Nobody is forced to use Google. People ARE forced to pay for MS products"

      Uhm, no they're not. Plenty of other options out there in most of the markets MS deals in. Some of which they don't even have to pay for! How about that, eh?

      And I know, I know, that might be difficult to concieve right now. But give it time. You'll get there, sooner or later.

  21. Al fazed

    More American Legal Baloney

    FFS, this sounds like the schmuck would rather us ALL have to rely on the search results from Yahoo, BING or AOL's walled gardens. Or maybe from some other ineffective world wide search giant ?


  22. Ebeneser


    Pretty unsurprising that a lobbying group sponsored by Microsoft is calling for the breakup of Google.

    Perhaps the title should have been 'Microsoft Lobbying Group calls for breakup of Google", but then I guess most people wouldn't have bothered to read the article.... 9/10 for misleading headlines El Reg for the purposes for getting an audience,.... and a reaction...

  23. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    For a moment...

    I read that as "Watchdog calls for Google break-IN"

    ... which I think would actually be more honest.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I choose Google

    I choose Google for my web searching because its got the best search engine and results...if a.n.other provider was better I'd switch to them in a day (eg I used to use Altavista ).

    I also choose to use google mail over other web mail systems because its the best free one I've come across. its a pain to change email address and web-based application systems but I'd do it if the alternative was better.

    I'm not locked into Google..there are alternatives , i dont pay money to Google etc. its all cannot be a monopoly

  25. Maty

    profit well spent

    So Google is using its profits to subsidize other areas of its business?

    I've just planned a road trip using Google earth, and carefully viewed all the essential intersections on streetview. Also with streetview/google earth I know what the streets around my hotels look like, and where I fancy dining in the evening.

    If this free app was paid for by profits from advertising, good for Google.

    Hand grenade. Consumer Watchdog can Google 'fanatical Islamic assassin' for instructions where to shove it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I'll buy whatver google tells me to.

    If google tells me your business sucks than it sucks, simple as that.

    If you don't like you can take you site off google index and go to yahoo, bing or whatever. Good riddance.

  27. OrsonX


    wut? nobody's forcing me to set Google as my home page! IDIOTS!

  28. Nexox Enigma


    Looks like the real problem they have is probably that Google is using it's search monopoly to unfairly compete in other realms, like price matching or maps. Since most people use Google to search for stuff, Google can return their relevant services and effectively block competitors, like Mapquest.

    And that, my friends, is illegal!

    """Maybe I'm stupid, but why would Google not be allowed to pay for non-search stuff through profits from search advertising?"""

    See above, they mean that Google uses search market share to direct people away from competitors into Google's own non-search products. The article's terminology was a bit ambiguous.

    """I just love this double standard. On one hand, you are urged to be successful in what you do. On the other hand, if you're "too" successful, the likes of those watchdogs will want to punish you for trying."""

    And that's the problem with a free market / capitalism, as Marx pointed out. Some regulation is required, or we'd have just one company that does everything, and then we wouldn't have capitalism. To be fair, using a monopoly in one field to exclude competitors in another field isn't really "being successful" - it's just being sort of a dick.

    """Google may have reached a monopoly status, but they became such because people CHOSE to use them."""

    So? Acting in anti-competitive ways has nothing to do with how a corporation got to be a monopoly. A monopoly is power, and regulators seek to prevent that power from becoming excessive. How a corporation came to have excessive market power is somewhat irrelevant in the scope of preventing its misuse.

    """If you don't like them, then use one of the other search engines out there and a different free email provider."""

    Nobody ever said (nobody sane anyway) that people should quit using Google just because it was a monopoly that people should stop using it. Not even sure where you got that particular idea. Does it follow, though, that since lots of people like Google's search, that Google should be able to effectively decide what other services it's users will use? I, for one, don't think so.

    And obviously just about any sort of 'watchdog' is actually some sort of lobbyist group, with an agenda, and probably some corporate backers. Doesn't mean that they're entirely wrong about Google's less-than-fair practices, however.

  29. Shannon Jacobs

    Is Google too big to fail?

    Does anyone doubt that Google is acting as a monopoly? At least it seems to me that the residual question is whether Internet search is somehow a natural monopoly (Perhaps because there is only one Internet as most users think of it?) or just some kind of de facto monopoly.

    In the natural-monopoly case, then I think there is a strong argument for regulation, since I don't believe any monopolist can resist the temptation to abuse their monopoly power. In fact, I feel that I have already been victimized and censored (though in a minor way) by Google's ToS, but I can't even be sure since Google won't respond to any questions about the topic). A claim that the company doesn't want to be evil is not adequate, and especially if you believe the laws almost require evil behavior by companies.

    In the de-facto-monopoly case, then I think the main concern is with 'too big to fail'. You can argue that a de facto monopoly will eventually make mistakes or be out-competed and lose its monopoly position--but the transition may be quite traumatic if the company has become big enough. In that case, dividing overly large companies into smaller companies competing with each other is good in the long run.

    Don't think of it as a penalty for too much success. Think of it as a requirement for reproduction of the good ideas. However, I think of it as a freedom thing. Real freedom is about meaningful and significant choice. That means the options have to be truly different, and I have to know enough about those differences to make my own decisions. (To be starkly contrasted with Microsoft's fake version of choice in terms of minor flavors all from Microsoft.)

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Fan Boys

    You know I quite like Google. Use their chrome browser which is quite awesome etc,

    there search isn't bad except for the fact that it's not moved anywhere for five or six years...

    That said what a lot of sad fan bois comment before me!

    Where's all the usual Open Source guys pointing out there should be a completely OS penguin equivalent to Google?

  31. Anonymous Coward


    The Google shills are out in force today

  32. richard 7

    As far as I can see...

    Google need a bloody good shooing (sp?) for their attitude towards privacy.

    However for everything else theyve done, bearing min mind how they started, I dont see they deserve anything else, maybe a pat on the back for living the dream* and actually running a sucessful startup into what Google is now.

    *note: THE DREAM not The AMERICAN dream, there is a difference

  33. g e

    Consumer Watchdog

    With a stupid generic name like that they'll be easy to find on Google, eh?

    I don't mind if Google wants to run the world, M$ did not so long ago but are well out of it these days. At least Google's shit works (in my experience).

  34. Eddie Johnson

    I'd Be Sympathetic to Their Campaign

    If only it wasn't being driven by a price comparison website. Those sites are absolutely worthless and do everything they can to clog the search results. More power to Google if they can come up with an algorithm that sends those virtually content free sites to the bottom of the rankings. I just did a test and it seems a little better than the last time I searched by manufacturer and model.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Love the comparisons with MS

    Microsoft and Google are very different, it's pointless to compare them to each other. Microsoft are pretty straight forward; they want your money. All of it. Google, on the other hand, don't want your money, they want your life; every single little personal detail so they can sell it, and you and your privacy, for advertising.

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