Seth Bloom, former general counsel to the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and former attorney at the Justice Department Antitrust Division, said Google is “in serious trouble” regarding anti-trust scrutiny from many different places.
Bloom said that the Justice Department took over the FTC investigation of Google, which is rare and a sign of the seriousness of the investigation. Plus, 48 states are investigating Google, and there is scrutiny from both Democrats and Republicans. “It’s unique to have such scrutiny from both sides,” said Bloom.
His remarks were made during a panel discussion organized by the Save Journalism Project — founded by laid-off reporters. The activist organization blames Google and Facebook for decimating ad revenues for independent newspapers and magazines, resulting in huge numbers of layoffs and endangering a free press.
“Monopolies are not illegal under our antitrust laws, but exclusionary conduct is illegal,” he said. US investigators are likely to follow European anti-trust investigations, which resulted in several massive fines totaling more than $9 billion.
Bloom pointed to the success of the EU’s investigations that found Google guilty of promoting its own businesses over others, and it received a $5 billion fine.
Bloom has been working on Goggle anti-trust issues since 2011 — these were the first government hearings on the search giant’s business practices.
Microsoft was found guilty of exclusionary conduct, by insisting that its operating system had to be loaded onto PCs and integrating competing software. Google has been insisting that companies licensing its Android operating system have to also load Google apps.
Bloom said there are serious issues with Google banning third-party cookies under the guise of user privacy while it collects all the user data it wants. This is a clear example of exclusionary conduct.
Laura Bassett, the co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, said, “One or two companies should not have the power to cripple the free press in the US.”