Senate Panel To Examine Google's Competitive Streak

Google CEO Eric Schmidt testifies before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. The panel is examining whether the Internet giant is stifling competition. The European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission have opened inquiries into Google's business practices.

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Congress is asking questions about Google today. The company's chairman, Eric Schmidt, will testify before a Senate subcommittee on whether the Internet company is too powerful. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has more.

YUKI NOGUCHI: The European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission opened inquiries into Google's business practices. Its competitors say Google wields its search tool to give preference to its own websites. Thomas Barnett is a lawyer representing some of those competitors.

THOMAS BARNETT: It is, more importantly, excluding other sites and foreclosing their ability to compete on the merits.

NOGUCHI: Google denies this. Schmidt, Google's chairman, told ABC's "This Week" that regulators so far have not signaled serious concerns.

ERIC SCHMIDT: They haven't had any findings. They haven't called us complain about anything. So I think, at the moment, this is more of an awareness issue.

Dana Wagner is a lawyer who used to represent Google on antitrust matters. He sees the complaints against Google as part of a strategy to try to slow Google down.

DANA WAGNER: I haven't seen any strong complaints or strong theories of harm, as they say in the antitrust world, coming from consumers groups or people who are actually using Google, as opposed to people who are competing with it.

NOGUCHI: Wagner says Google sometimes changes its technology to give better and more relevant results, and that can disadvantage some sites over others. What some call antitrust, in other words, others call healthy competition. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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