Italian authorities investigating Google

Mon 31 August 2009 09:16, Bas van den Beld

Italian authorities investigating Google

It's the country where the origin of the maffia is located. An organization which is dominant, pushing others around and makes sure they get all the revenues. And they don't kiss and tell. The authorities there therefore have a lot of experience in investigating illegal activities. But that they would be going after Google is a bit of a surprise.

Last Thursday the Italian authorities announced an investigation against Google. The allegations were that Google is abusing their dominant position on the Internet.

No one will deny that Google is dominant and that Google is pushing the web to do it their way instead of the other way around. But until now Google has never been 'caught' doing anything illegal.

In Italy a group of publishers feels differently. They feel Google's "lack of transparency" causes them to be losing online advertising revenue. In short: Google should open up its ranking criterias.

According to the president of the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers Carlo Malinconico newspapers cannot make good online advertising revenues because Google prevents them: “Publishers provide much of the content on the Internet, but they get nearly nothing for it,” he said. “This is not fair, in our opinion. Our feeling is we lose more than we gain.”

The complaint seems to be focussing on Google News, which has been the target of complaints before in Europe. Google however doesn't seem to be bothered by the accusations. They believe content owners can fully control their content on the web. After all, its easy to opt out. Besides that Google does offer more information on ranking than one might think.

As Danny Sullivan points out on Searchengineland one could also wonder if the Italian newspapers will benefit from this accusation. After all, most of the traffic they are getting is sent to them by Google.

However, if you look beyond the details of the accusation there is an interesting angle to it. Again there is opposition against 'Googles power'. Wether it is justified or not, it is a sign that Google should not take for granted. The world is changing and so is the web. Revenue models have to change and Google will have to change with that. No doubt they will.

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