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Internet companies target Google in antitrust hearing

Rivals claim search engine giant buries competitors' links

The battle for internet dominance reaches Capitol Hill, as Nextag Inc., Yelp Inc. and Expedia Inc. attempt to level the playing field with Google Inc. The companies will face the Internet giant in a Senate antitrust hearing Wednesday over whether or not Google unfairly directs users to Google-owned sites, attracting visitors and profits by burying links to the competing search engines.

According to company representatives, the testifying sites claim Google deceives people by limiting their exposure. Nextag Chief Executive Jeff Katz told the Wall Street Journal Google views his company as competition and allegedly barred the company a year ago from advertising in prominent spaces on the results page. Now, Nextag can only bid for the text ads lower down on the page.

However, Google insists that it aims to serve users, not other websites. In a statement concerning Wednesday’s hearing, Google said: “We understand with success comes scrutiny, and we’re looking forward to the hearing and answering any questions senators may have about our business.”

The Federal Trade Commission also is investigating the complaints from the rival companies. Whether or not Google is leveraging its search engine remains to be seen at Wednesday’s hearing.

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