Rupert Murdoch's minions have written to the European Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia, urging him to mete out stern punishment to Google in the ongoing search market dominance probe.
The minion in question is News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson and his urgings are detailed in a letter he sent to Almunia last week.
The letter opens with the observation that “Your decision to reconsider Google’s settlement offer comes at a crucial moment in the history of the free flow of information and of a healthy media in Europe and beyond.”
The central thesis of Thomson's complaint appears to be his belief that “Google must do more to ensure that rights are respected and that its powerful search platform is not abused to eliminate competition.”
“The shining vision of Google’s founders has been replaced by a cynical management, which offers advertisers impressively precise data about users and content usage, but has been a platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks, all while driving more traffic and online advertising dollars to Google,” Thomson writes, going on to accuse The Chocolate Factory of choosing “... to ignore the unlawful and unsavoury content that surfaces after the simplest of searches” and suggesting the company “has not shown the willingness, even though it clearly has the ability, to respect fundamental property rights.
Thomson also has market dominance issues, arguing that “Sudden changes are made to the ranking and display of Google search results, which inevitably maximise income for Google and yet punish small companies that have become dependent on Google for their livelihood.” Another worry is a new “'certification' process for Android-related products which allows [Google] to delay or deny content companies and other businesses access to the mobile operating system, while giving itself the freedom to develop competing products.”
“This development reflects the exponential evolution of Google from a company that is 'open' to one that is selectively closed and willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition.”
Thomson then rolls out an old News Corp argument, namely that Google News is only valuable because it can scrape in content Google does not own. As usual when News Corp runs this argument, there's no discussion of the fact a simple robots.txt file would deprive Google of all Murdochian content. And also no concession that if News Corp chose to do so it would deprive itself of much traffic.
There's also this swipe at many online businesses:
“'Internet idealism'” is used by Google and certain other digital companies as an injudicious justification for inappropriate business practices.”
Inappropriate like phone hacking? Or inappropriate as in, as recently happened in an Australian News outlet, reporting on research conducted by and favorable to tobacco companies that contradicts official sources of data, but not releasing the research in order to allow independent verification of the story?
The letter concludes with an observation that Google's “... power increases with each passing day, so to allow it five years to fashion the future of content and to abuse its dominance in search would be a mistake of magnitude. Google will certainly be the winner, and among the losers will be those who create content and, undoubtedly, the people of Europe.”