The European parliament is thinking about making a ruling that Google split off its search engine from other parts of its business, according to a report today in the Financial Times.
But we were wondering: how can Europe order an American company to break apart? How would that even work?
“I don’t know,” answered Herbert Hovenkamp, a law professor at the University of Iowa who is considered one of the leading American experts on European antitrust law.
“I think it’d be very difficult for Google to disaggregate all its own assets and interests from Google Search just in Europe. I’m not saying it couldn’t do it, but it would be costly. You’d get a lot of squawking from European consumers because it would deteriorate the quality of Google search quite a bit.”
That’s because Google uses its own products to provide quick answers to certain kinds of queries.
(It must be noted that Hovenkamp did some work for Google in 2010 during its dispute with the American Federal Trade Commission, but hasn’t worked for them since.)
Keith Hylton, an law professor at Boston University, agrees. “The European Parliament has no authority to break up Google – and I’m surprised that this sort of legislation isn’t considered unfair, since it targets one entity for punishment.”
However, Hylton thinks Google would be wise to take the threat seriously.
“Expect a much harsher deal than Google worked out earlier with the previous EC competition commissioner Almunia. That earlier deal was a laughable outcome in which Google was poised to make more money from the remedy than it would have made without EC intervention.”
Regulators in Europe have been looking at Google closely for a few years now, concerned that the company is using its search dominance to guide users to its own products and away from competing products, as well as generally playing unfair in the advertising market.
But both professors think that the American Federal Trade Commission had the right idea when it looked at Google, found no wrongdoing, and closed its investigation.
The reason? Unlike the case with Microsoft in the 1990s, where consumers paid for Windows on new PCs and faced some technical barriers in switching to a new operating system, using Google search is free and it’s easy for people to switch search engines.
“If a customer doesn’t like a particular search engine they can switch to different one,” says Hovenkamp. “The thing about bias with respect to Google assets or interests, that problem can be addressed by requiring Google to post a note or symbol” — for instance, YouTube results could be clearly marked as coming from Google.
“My view is this is problem that can be addressed with something much more modest and less reactionary,” he added.
Hillary Clinton seems to have a very clear path to the White House in 2016. A slew of polls have shown her leading all her likely Democratic primary rivals.
While that kind of prime positioning obviously has its advantages, being the front-runner hasn’t worked for four Democrats in recent races — including Clinton in 2008. In a recent piece, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza spoke to experts who warned Clinton could fall into this “inevitability trap” once again in the next election.
On Friday, top Clinton supporters gathered in New York City for a meeting of the finance council of “Ready For Hillary,” a super PAC dedicated to backing her potential candidacy. Many of them shot down the notion Clinton has the White House locked up.
Ready For Hillary Executive Director Adam Parkhomenko devoted much of his sitdown with reporters at the event to batting down the idea Clinton is inevitable.
“In terms of inevitability, I wouldn’t have been doing this since Jan. 2013 if I thought she was inevitable,” Parkhomenko said at the event, which was held at the Sheraton Times Square hotel.
Political consultant James Carville, a veteran Clinton ally, put things in even more blunt terms.
“It’s stupid. It’s a stupid perception. There’s no such thing as inevitability in politics,” Carville told Business Insider. “I just think it’s coming from inexperienced people that don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Lanny Davis, another longtime Clinton loyalist, concurred with Carville and blamed the media for creating a false sense of Clinton’s inevitability.
“This is only a problem when the press is interviewing the press. It’s a media non-story that the media creates into a story,” Davis told Business Insider. “I think she has to work hard and earn the nomination. This is a media invention when they have nothing to write about. Blaming a candidate for being inevitable is like blaming the sun for rising in the east.”
Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY’s List, a group dedicated to supporting pro-choice Democratic women, argued those who see Clinton as inevitable are the fact voters have desire for change after eight years of President Barack Obama.
“I think the biggest challenge we have is that history says that Americans don’t really like to go with the same party for three terms. So we’ve got our work cut out for us under the best of circumstances,” Schriock said at a briefing with reporters. “This is not going to be an easy election. … She’s going to have to make the case if she decides to run.”
Schriock is rumored to be one of the leading candidates to manage Clinton’s White House bid. However, she declined to discuss whether she could play a role on Clinton’s campaign.
“I’m not going to talk about any conversations I may or may not be having with any candidate who may or may not be running,” she said.
For his part, Parkhomenko pointed to the fact history making nature of a potential Clinton candidacy as evidence she should not be seen as a lock.
“She’s not inevitable,” he repeated. “It’s not going to be easy. A woman’s never won the Iowa caucuses. A woman’s never won a major party nomination. A woman has never become president.”
Parkhomenko also pointed out she hasn’t officially entered the race.
“Hillary Clinton hasn’t made up her mind,” he said.
Parkhomenko also reminded reporters at the event of Clinton’s loss in 2008, when she was widely seen as inevitable before being upset by Obama.
“It’s important to note that, if you go back and you look at a lot of the stories that some of the folks in this room wrote at this time in the 2008 cycle, it was ‘Hillary Clinton vs. Rudolph Giuliani’ — and we know how that turned out,” he said.
“Stay in a giant dog!” the listing says. “That’s right, it’s a beagle-shaped one-unit inn where being in this doghouse is a GOOD thing and comfortable to boot!”
The inn sleeps four and includes a continental breakfast and free parking. One night’s lodging costs $98 — a small price to pay for a stay in the belly of a giant beagle. Dogs are welcome.
Once you go inside, you’ll see dog memorabilia everywhere.
You can catch up on some reading in this cozy nook.
There’s even a giant red fire hydrant in the front yard.
Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on the way out.
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It’s almost turkey time. Millions of Americans will soon be diving into the big bird, smothering it with gravy or cranberry sauce or both. Many will also face the scornful stare of their vegetarian cousin, silently asking, “Do you know how that turkey … →
A new trending topic #ThanksMichelleObama is popping up all over Twitter, but the sentiment is anything but gracious.
Teenagers who are unhappy with their school lunches are snapping pictures of the food and tweeting them along with the hashtag.
“Hunter Whitney, a student at Wisconsin’s Richmond Center High School, said this dish is called “Spanish rice” and that students aren’t supplied with salt,” Buzzfeed reports.
— Hunter Whitney (@huntwhitney4) November 13, 2014
Other teens have chimed in with their own photos.
— I hate winter (@izzysmardz07) November 21, 2014
— Zoë (@zoesappingfield) November 21, 2014
— Amber Schroeder (@aureviorlune) November 21, 2014
The lunches comply with new USDA regulations which Michelle Obama has largely supported in her quest to end childhood obesity.
We discovered that the Facebook app for the iPhone is taking up way too much space on your phone. The video above explains in much more depth and tells you how to solve the problem, but it’s still annoying.
Produced by Matthew Stuart. Special thanks to Matt Johnston.
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