For the first time, the Federal Trade Commission in the United States will conduct an inquiry into Google which will not be limited to mergers and acquisitions, or violations of privacy, but fundamental issues relating to Google’s core search advertising business model.
This follows the European Commission probe which commenced late last year. The European Commission stated that it “will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services which are specialised in providing users with specific online content such as price comparisons (so‐called vertical search services) and by according preferential placement to the results of its own vertical search services in order to shut out competing services.”
Google has argued over the years that it does not manipulate search results and that its algorithms are designed solely to deliver the most relevant results to search queries; however it has fiercely protected its algorithm or secret black box.
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Have you had a close look at Wayne Swan’s December 2010 bank package? Don’t worry if you haven’t yet as you haven’t missed much.
For those who have, it’s clear that it’s so light handed and minimalist that the big banks aren’t bothered by it. In fact, the big banks have even told the Senate banking inquiry that they actually like aspects of the package.
So much for Swan’s tough talk regarding the big banks. Given how much of a fizzer the package will be, one has to wonder if Swan’s announcement was more about being seen to be “doing something” in response to the public anger towards the big banks.
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With consumers already being let down so badly on grocery issues by Mr Rudd and his Competition Minister Craig Emerson, you’d think that they would do better on basic consumer law issues. Well, you’d be very disappointed as Minister Emerson has presided over a continual watering down of consumer rights in the vital area of unfair contract terms.
Unfair contract terms may prevent the sale of items like this
We know or should know about unfair contract terms. We more commonly know them as the “fine print” in consumer contracts. These are the nasty terms of the contract that stack the contract well and truly in favour of the larger party, commonly a big business. Banks use unfair contract terms as do mobile phone companies. Car hire companies and your local gym also try to stack the contract terms in their favour.
Unfair contract terms are also found in contracts that small businesses may have with larger businesses. Small businesses also deal with banks, mobile phone companies and car hire companies. In this regard, small businesses are also consumers of basic goods and services. Sadly, small businesses can also get hit with unfair contract terms in franchise agreements, retail leases and supply agreements.
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