2nd Annual Conference on Competition, Search, and Social Media
May 15, 2012
Alexandria, Virginia USA
Should Google be regulated as a public utility? It shouldn’t, according to PURC Director Dr. Mark Jamison. Speaking at the 2nd Annual Conference on Competition, Search, and Social Media at George Mason University, he explained in his presentation, "Ex Ante Regulation of Google?" that Google does not fit any of the criteria that would qualify a business as a public utility (such as an electric utility), a common carrier (such as a telecom company), or a possessor of an essential facility.
Google is not a public utility does not have a public franchise, does not have 100 percent of its market, and does not provide a service that a modern economy cannot do without. The company is not a common carrier because it does not transport information (the underlying telecom companies perform that function) and does not charge exploitive prices. Google does not possess an essential facility, like AT&T did before the 1984 breakup, because Google does not have a monopoly in the relevant retail markets (such as maps, videos, and calendars) and does not refuse rivals access to its search results. Advocates of regulation seem to ignore how regulation would hinder innovation and reduce investment in Internet search.