Google already is facing claims of bias and abuse of its power in the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.
Now, India has joined the chorus.
The Competition Commission of India has found that the company “abused its dominant position in online general web search and web-search advertising services.”
The commission imposed a $20 million fine.
Google is fighting back, according to Russia Today.
The tech giant lashed out against the government’s ruling, claiming it will cause “irreparable” harm to its business in India.
Russia Today reported Google said the verdict requires the firm “to change the way it conducts business in India on a lasting basis and the way it designs its search results page in India.”
The Indian commission, responding to complaints filed against Google, determined the company held a “special responsibility” because it was “the gateway to the internet for a vast majority of internet users due to its dominance.”
The commission noted that “undue intervention” in “Search Engine Result Page” would “affect legitimate product improvements.”
It also found that Google had allocated “disproportionate real estate thereof to such units to the disadvantage of verticals trying to gain market access.”
Further, Google provided a special link to its own “specialized search result page.”
That resulted in “unfair imposition upon the users of general search services as well.”
RT pointed out: “India is not the first country that has lashed out against Google’s online monopoly. Last year, the European Commission imposed a $2.7 billion fine on the company for breaching competition rules with its online shopping service. Russia also slapped Google with $8 million in fines after the company was found guilty of abusing its dominant position in the market for mobile devices running the Android operating system.”
Google has filed an appeal with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal and is awaiting the next step in its suit against India.
In the U.S., the company is embroiled in controversies over its use of private information. The Verge reported a video it obtained documents that Google’s objective is “total data collection.” The company, the Verge said, has built a multibillion-dollar business out of knowing everything about its users.
In a column, WND CEO Joseph Farah said the cartel that includes Google and Facebook is “destroying the independent media in a way that amounts to a first strike against freedom of speech altogether.”
The giant “avowedly ‘progressive’ corporations, now control more than 75 percent of the digital advertising market,” he pointed out.
“Both employ strict political speech codes designed to determine what is acceptable discourse in the public square – much like what we see on university and college campuses. In the case of Google, these restrictions determine which websites succeed and which fail.”
Consequently, conservatives and “right-leaning” enterprises “are deprived of traffic and revenues they would get if they had a different political point of view.”
“While the internet was once a free-and-open forum for the flow of information and discussion, today information and discussion are being strictly controlled by two major companies with the same ‘progressive’ political agenda.”
He asked: “Do private companies have the ‘right’ to do something like this? The answer is ‘yes’ – except when they dominate the media marketplace to the extent that they become a monopoly or ‘cartel.’ And that’s precisely where we are today. It’s unprecedented. We’ve never experienced anything like this in America before.”
The House Judiciary Committee is reviewing how to address censorship by social media companies, and a privacy advocate is asking Congress to require the companies to make public their algorithms, the computer coding that buries some content sources and promotes others.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, in a recent letter to the chairmen of the committee, Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., urged fairness, transparency and accountability for the megacorporations that decide “what users see online.”
EPIC said that several years ago it “encountered the problem of opaque algorithms deployed by a dominant platform.”
“At the time, EPIC, an organization whose mission is to educate the public about emerging privacy issues, provided several videos that were among the top-ranked search results on YouTube for a search on ‘privacy.’ At the time, YouTube’s search results were organized by the objective criteria of ‘hits’ and ‘viewer rankings.’ Both of these are objective criteria and easy to verify.”
But after Google acquired YouTube, EPIC’s search rankings fell.
“Google had substituted its own subjective, ‘relevance’ ranking in place of objective search criteria,” EPIC said. “Google’s ranking algorithm was opaque and proprietary. And significantly, Google’s subjective algorithm preferenced Google’s video content on YouTube concerning ‘privacy’ over that of EPIC and others. Suddenly, the Google videos rose in the rankings.”
EPIC said Google’s acquisition of YouTube “led to a skewing of search results after Google substituted its secret ‘relevance’ ranking.”
The significance? Online revenue is linked to those rankings, and if a company such as Google can suppress other videos and promote its own, it gets more money.
The European Commission discovered the same thing about Google. The company’s “illegal practices,” the commission said, cause a plunge in competitors’ traffic.
“Since the beginning of each abuse, Google’s comparison shopping service has increased its traffic 45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany, 19-fold in France, 29-fold in the Nethehlands, 17-fold in Spain and 14-fold in Italy,” the report said.
Said EPIC: “Algorithms that rank and index search results must be scrutinized for distorting web users’ access to information with limited transparency and accountability. Virtually every search engine, social media company, and web operator develops its own unique algorithm to curate content for individual users to control how information is fetched and displayed form search queries.”
The dangers are that such manipulation by companies “can prevent individuals from using the Internet to exchange information on topics that may be controversial.”