The discussion of Google and antitrust has shifted in recent weeks from relevant market and anticompetitive behavior to consumer happiness. The problem is that consumers are not always the best judges of their own welfare.
People deserve to be back in control of their online experience, not merely a data point in a product marketed to advertisers. But there is no "market" incentive for this to happen. Only regulation can bring it about.
If monopoly of search can trump diversity of source, then a dominant search engine has enormous power to promote its own offerings and to stifle innovation in a range of industries. Other problems likewise follow automatically.
Although The Jungle was published in 1906, we have no less of a Jungle today, and no less of a "Beef Trust,"from the way farmers and ranchers are denied a fair income, to the exploitation of workers, to our deplorable lack of food safety.
The FTC case goes to trial early this fall. The result of the litigation could not be more important for consumers. If the FTC prevails, we may see lower priced microprocessors leading to lower cost and faster computers.