Google, Microsoft and the DOJ

It’s inevitable that Google and Microsoft will keep bumping into each other since both are very large and they both covet some of the same territory. These strong competitive urges may well be influencing how they each react to other third parties. Without the other, their behaviour might well be different. Two recent cases involve entities represented by 3 letter acronyms, AOL and DOJ.

In the case of AOL, as each of the suitors, Google and Microsoft, pursued the fair lady’s hand, Google may well have given up too much in order to capture the AOL contract. We have yet to see what changes may have been accepted for Google’s ultra-simple search web page.

Now both are involved with the DOJ, or the US Department of Justice. The federal government is seeking search data that will help it build a case that Internet porn is readily accessible to minors. This will then confirm the need for its once-denied Child Online Protection Act (COPA). The question is just how much data is needed for that. Microsoft and Google were both asked to provide data. Microsoft has sometimes had a tough time with governments. Google on the other hand ‘Does No Evil’. So which of the two is likely to object. Well, Microsoft seems to have come to an arrangement which preserves its position on Privacy and MSN Search.

Google on the other hand has had more difficulties with the request. Could Microsoft have been more amenable in order to put pressure on Google and put it in a bad light? Certainly Google took a hit in the stock market on news of its battle with the DOJ. Google is by far the bigger in search so it may have more to lose if data is divulged and in turn leaked. However a Forbes article suggests a more sinister reason Why Google Won’t Give In. The article contends that:

A public disclosure of exactly how much pornography is on the Internet and how often people look for it–the two data points that will result from fulfilling the government’s subpoena–could serve to make the Internet look bad. And Google, as its leading search engine, could look the worst.

Why Microsoft would not be concerned is unclear. Perhaps it’s solely because they’re delighted to see Google facing some bad publicity.

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