WASHINGTON — Senators turned the heat up on Google Inc., fireing a barrage of questions about whether Google favors its own business and stifles competition in its search results during a Senate anti-trust hearing Wednesday.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who said he was a free-market Republican and opposed to government intervention, posed the most heated questions. Lee said he was concerned that Google narrows consumer choice by giving its own business an advantage in search listings, according to the New York Times.
“Some of my fears have been confirmed,” Lee said after Google Chairman Eric Schmidt answered questions, according to the New York Times. “I am troubled by some of Google’s practices — submitting its own offerings in natural search results, in the most prominent positions on the page.”
Lee also acknowledged the success Google brings to e-commerce.
“One thing is clear: Given its significant ability to steer e-commerce and online information, Google is in a position to determine who will succeed and who will fail on the Internet," Lee said, according the Wall Street Journal.
During the hearing, Lee displayed a chart with information about Google search results for 650 different product-related searches in April 2011. Google ranked third in almost every instance, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The report also said Lee pointed to Schmidt and said, “You’ve cooked it so that you’re always third," to which Schmidt reportedly denied, saying Google didn’t manipulate any results.
Schmidt denied the allegation, claiming the company has learned lessons from the past.
The Internet conglomerate learned from the mistakes of Microsoft, which for 13 years was in the same position Google is currently in. Google supports the open Internet and fosters innovation and competition—unlike Microsoft, which “lost sight of what mattered,” Schmidt told CNN.
“In the years since, many of us in Silicon Valley have absorbed the lessons of that era," Schmidt testified at the hearing, according to CNN. "We get the lessons of our corporate predecessors. But I ask you to remember that not all companies are cut from the same cloth, and that one company's past need not be another's future."
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