What does a poorly received speech today by Eric Schmidt at the Economic Club of Washington have to do with Hispanic IT workers? Nothing, really, and that's what Lista, the Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association, wants you to know. One has to admire the sheer Valley-like opportunism of Lista's Jose Marquez, who sent us five questions Schmidt didn't answer about the threat a search deal between Google and Yahoo poses to the people his organization claims to represent. One question we have for Marquez: Does your close scrutiny of a potential Google-Yahoo deal have anything to do with Microsoft's many partnerships with your organization? Marquez's curiously loaded queries:
1. Given the growing reliance on online activism by civic organizations, how will Google ensure that it does not abuse the near 90% share of the search market it will most certainly control if it aligns with Yahoo!, which could allow the company to control how Americans access information on key issues?
2. Google has in the past been accused of using its search algorithms to favor certain search results over others. Such accusations are of particular concern to Hispanic-owned small businesses that rely on Internet search for a competitive equalizer in a marketplace dominated by large corporations. How will a company with 90% control of the search market allay fears that small businesses will lose this valuable economic resource?
3. Privacy advocates such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center and consumer groups like US PIRG have raised serious concerns about Google's privacy policies and practices - concerns that are doubled by the proposed deal that would give Google near-total control of the online search market. For Latinos considering subscribing to broadband services, worries about privacy - along with child safety and content filtering - are determining factors. How quickly will Google move to address these concerns?
4. During review of its acquisition of DoubleClick, Google pledged to alter several of its information-gathering techniques to address privacy concerns, including its use of "cookies" to track users' surfing habits. And yet the company has opposed an array of privacy regulations ranging from state laws in New York and elsewhere to adoption of FTC self-regulatory principles. Is Google now backing away from the pledges it made to usher along the approval of the DoubleClick deal, and will it take a similar tack when attempting to gain antitrust approval for the Yahoo! pact?