Precursor Group President Scott Cleland, one of Google's most
outspoken critics, will take that criticism to the House Judiciary Subcommittee
on Courts and Competition Policy Thursday, calling for swift government
According to a copy of his prepared testimony as a witness for a
hearing on competition in the digital marketplace, Cleland argues in his
testimony and at Googleopoly.net that the company has
systematically built a monopoly of the "consumer Internet media
ecosystem" and that it has become an online "monocaster" with
80% of the online video audience, which it plans to leverage through its
proposed Google TV and on which, unlike traditional broadcasting, there are no
media ownership limits.
Online video is becoming an increasingly important player in
the TV space. The FCC is seeking to unite traditional and Internet video into a
single set-top box to be delivered to TV sets. In a speech just this week FCC
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, talking about the rise of over-the-top video,
referred to a Pew study last month that found that only 42% of respondents said
owning a TV set was a necessity, and among the 18- to 29-year-olds, that number
was only 29%.
"Don't ignore the blue whale in the antitrust room -
Googleopoly," he plans to tell the subcommittee, and will recommend that
it "urge the Department of Justice Antitrust Division to enforce the law
and sue Google Inc. for monopolization of consumer Internet media."
Cleland pulls out all the stops, saying Google's power over the
Internet threatens "economic growth, jobs, privacy, intellectual property,
a free press, fair elections, & cyber-security."
The hearing is not about Google, but about what antitrust
enforcement there should be on nascent online markets, including the
online ad market, where Google's name comes up several times in a draft
subcommittee briefing memo citing deals with Admob and DoubleClick.
But Cleland also goes beyond Google, which he labels "the
main antitrust event," to argue that the online model has been one that
moved from open competition to monopoly on numerous fronts. In addition to
Google's video streaming power via YouTube and ad-serving clout via
DoubleClick, he cites eBay's dominance of online auctions, Facebook's
of social networking, Skype's of VOIP and Twitter of what he calls
"real time infocasting."
Cleland is also chairman of NetCompetion.org, which promotes
online competition over regulation with the backing of the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association, American Cable Association, Verizon and
But he told the subcommittee he was speaking for himself.
Google had not responded to a request for comment at press time.