Yesterday, Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about concerns arising from a Judiciary Committee hearing in September on the antitrust practices of Google. The letter urges a thorough FTC investigation to determine if Google is using the overwhelming market power of its search engine to steer Internet users to its own products while discriminating against other companies. It also asks the commission to determine if Google has violated antitrust law, harmed consumers or impeded access to open competition.
In a post on the conservative blog Red State, Saul Anuzis defended Senator Lee for taking “justified and principled action” in examining if Google undermines the property rights and privacy of Americans. While not everyone at Red State has agreed on supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261), perhaps a look at the abuse of property rights and privacy on the Internet will serve as evidence of the need for action now on this important legislation to target those who profit from stolen American property.
“For conservatives, the regulatory direction of antitrust enforcement strikes right at the heart of what defines a company: its property. Google has seemingly built and branded the most highly prized real estate on the Internet through innovation, investment and competitiveness. At first glance, Google could be a poster child for free enterprise. Is Sen. Lee simply encouraging big government to intervene once again in the marketplace and essentially seize and redistribute property?
“But digital property ownership—of content, intellectual property and personal data—is exactly the issue that Google wants to sweep under the rug. To evaluate the need for antitrust enforcement against Google, we need to understand the extent to which Google has built its business through the abuse of the property rights of others.”
“In the September’s [Senate] hearing, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) drew attention to Google’s embarrassing non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and forfeiture of $500 million in ill-gotten gains from the promotion of illegal and counterfeit pharmaceutical ads. In this instance, Google aided other property thieves—thieves of drug patents and trademarks—in a way that put the health of consumers at risk.”