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Google Releases 'Guide' for Customers Regarding Senate Hearing

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"...its size, position and power in the marketplace have raised concerns..."

Google's Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt will testify before the U.S. Senate today about charges that Google may be abusing its search engine dominance to stifle competition. But before this hearing with the antitrust subcommittee, which will be streamed live starting at 2 p.m., Google released a viewers guide to what listeners will hear about the company and what it wants them to keep in mind.

Included in the guide are some of Google's defenses, which include sentiments that "AOL and MySpace were called 'gatekeepers' too" and "Google ranks search results to deliver the best answers to users [...] not political viewpoints, and not advertising dollars."

This Financial News Network report provides a brief overview of what's expected from both sides:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/7SQ0pbyy-Co?version=3&hl=en_US expand=1]

According to an AP story published by The Blaze, the Federal Trade Commission issued Google subpoenas on June 23. With Google handling two out of every three Internet searches in the United States, rival search engines say that Google manipulates the results to direct users to its own sites instead of those which would be considered its competition.

The New York Times BITS blog reports excerpts from Schmidt's prepared testimony that highlight's Google's positive effect on economic growth:

Google’s success, Mr. Schmidt writes, is a byproduct of its corporate ethos of putting consumer interests first. “Keeping up requires constant investment and innovation,” he writes, “and if Google fails in this effort users can and will switch. The cost of going elsewhere is zero, and users can and do use other sources to find the information they want.”

Mr. Schmidt asserts that Google’s search and advertising marketplace “helped generate $64 billion in economic activity for hundreds of thousands of small businesses throughout the United States.”

Politico has more from Schmidt's testimony:

“We believe that the FTC’s inquiry will reveal an enthusiastic company filled with people who believe we have only just scratched the surface of what’s possible. That passion to do better will not only serve our users well, it will serve our nation well, by helping create the new jobs and economic growth that America needs.”

The New York Times notes that 13 years ago a similar hearing was taking place with Microsoft in the hot seat:

“Google is a great American success story, but its size, position and power in the marketplace have raised concerns about its business practices, and raised the question of what responsibilities come with that power,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who is a member of the antitrust subcommittee and who as the attorney general of Connecticut played a leading role among the states that sued Microsoft.

Today Google, like Microsoft then, is both admired and feared. Google has used the riches from its dominance in search and search advertising to expand into video distribution with YouTube, smartphone software with Android and Web browsers with Chrome. It has added online commerce offerings in local retail and restaurants, comparison shopping and travel, and folded them into its search engine, prompting complaints that Google is giving its businesses preferred placement in search results.

In Google's blog post on June 24, it stated its mission is just to "do what's best for the user" and "provide as much information as quickly as possible":

Search helps you go anywhere and discover anything, on an open Internet. Using Google is a choice—and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to websites, mobile applications, social networks, and more.

The hearing is formally dubbed “The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?” and will include representatives from Yelp and Nextag.

This story has been updated for clarity.

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