A Senate subcommittee on Wednesday will become the latest group to question search engine powerhouse Google amidst rising concerns that the company is putting its own profits ahead of the best search results, and Sunlight Live will be there to follow the action starting 2 p.m E.T.
Leaders of the committee, which monitors antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights issues, urged former Google CEO and current chairman Eric Schmidt to testify and he agreed to take the stand. Members will examine whether Google misleads users and fends off competition by placing its own businesses higher in search results.
After a series of public gaffes, Schmidt stepped down from his role as CEO in January. He will be joined by four other witnesses, including some competitors:
- Jeff Katz, CEO of Nextag, Inc.
- Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp, Inc.
- Thomas O. Barnett, partner at Covington & Burling LLP and
- Susan A. Creighton, partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, PC
This antitrust panel is one of several bodies currently looking into Google while several groups have launched investigations, including the Federal Trade Commission, which launched its probe in June, the European Commission and the attorneys general offices in Texas, California and New York.
As one of the largest technology companies in the world, Google also plays its hand in politics, from financing election campaigns to lobbying various government offices including the White House and the Department of Justice. It spent $5.2 million lobbying last year and $3.5 million so far this year after hiring 13 new lobby firms following the FTC's investigation launch in June.
Google has been a top donor to 18 members of Congress so far in the 2012 election cycle, was a top donor to 27 members in 2010 and the second-highest donor to the Democratic National Committee in the 2010 cycle, giving $190,000.
The committee's hearing shadows a decade-old case that was also started by this panel: a sweeping antitrust investigation into Microsoft launched in 1998 by the federal government and 20 states.
Sunlight reporters will be joined by Rebecca Rosen, an associate editor at The Atlantic who focuses on technology. So tune in at 2 p.m. on Wednesday as we cover the hearing, and the influencers behind the scenes, live on sunlightlive.com.