Like most everybody today, I use Google to find information. Google is right at my fingertips and I usually find exactly what I want from a trusted source in just a second. Millions of other people agree, and my referrer statistics show that Google is the only search engine that matters for technical queries.
Google does not like "link farms" and there was a court battle raging about whether Google fighting-back by assigning their pages a pagerank=0 (PR0), and sending the site to the Netherlands of the result list where it is never seen again.
In the court case, the KinderCare web site suggested that Google was "defaming" them by giving them a PR0, and suggested that Google (because they control the web) has a social obligation to be fair and impartial.
That's the question. Has Google become the de-facto glue that ties the Internet together?
Google's defense is that, after all, Google is just another web site, and they should have the right to do as they please. If you don't like Google, just use another search engine. Never mind that over 80% of my professional technical queries originate from Google (according to my referrer statistics).
Think about it. If the courts rule that a monopoly does not have an obligation to the public, Google would get unimaginable power. In the USA, there is a long-standing tradition of regulating monopolies and the anti-trust laws were very effective at reigning-in the Robber Barons. Unchecked, could Google wind-up "owning" the web?
Let's face it. If your site is not in the Google index then you are not on the web. This is a panicked company who claims to be loosing a fortune because they were banned from the Google Adwords program:
"We have been spending thousands and thousands of dollars a month just on Google to advertise our products. We have delegated such tasks to one of our employees on a daily basis.
It has come apparent to us that one of our employees was committing click-fraud on a competitors website. We did not authorize such activity as a company and now we are paying the price!
We have sent several letters to Google regarding our problem. And they keep telling us (In an extremely brief and snobby letter) that we are not allowed back.
Our company relies majorly on internet advertising. And Yahoo & MSN just don't cut a good slice of cake.
What can we do? We feel like kids in the time-out corner."
This fellow claims that he mended his ways (he fired the click-fraud employee) and had a complete management overhaul. He says that he should be granted a second chance, and he claims that Google says no, his company is forever banned. BTW, Google adwords is a money machine that some advertisers pay over $1000,000 month.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely - If the courts rule that Google has the right to do whatever they want without having to justify it, they would have supreme power over the web. Google might wind-up governing the whole Internet and have like-and-death power over companies that rely on the web for advertising.
Anyway, time will tell whether Google gets the power. In my mind, one of these things will happen. If Google were to take an inordinate monopoly the law may step-in to prevent price-gouging, but they would not want to get involved in the policing of Google's indexing decisions. And then there is always the possibility that a competitor could de-throne Google, and Microsoft has announced a challenge in MSNBot.