By Claire West

Google’s monopoly like dominance, at least in the US, is again under fire on a number of fronts, from an anti trust claim, to copyright infringement and now a privacy threat.

Google’s mapping tool ‘Google’s mapping tool ‘street view’, where it matches photos of locations to maps, including passers-by who were captured as the photograph was taken. Privacy International, a UK rights group, believes the technology breaks data protection laws. Some individuals in the US have complained about their images being used and Google has said it removed their presence on request. Co-founder of Technology of Tomorrow 2008 (www.tot2008.com) and new media entrepreneur, Martin Warner added:

“Google’s new service Street View due to hit the UK soon is good for consumers and provides value, but the company is likely to be in breach of privacy laws. However, there are ways around this for Google, but it could prove to be very costly in doctoring images to remove people from ‘Street View’, which could threaten the product.”

Martin Warner continued: “While most large companies have to deal with these issues at some point, it is clear that Google is becoming a victim of its own success, and even though there are some serious ramifications for Google in these latest attempts to ensure they ‘toe-the-line’, they will probably get through them without revenue suffering but will have to re-think its go-to-market approach in certain services.”

“Perhaps the biggest concern is ensuring it keeps its strong brand identity — today Google stands as the ‘darling of the technology industry’, if it keeps getting this kind of publicity, it could run the possibility of being perceived as another Microsoft. Google’s Schmidt, Page and Brin do not want to be perceived as the next Gates/Ballmer. Bill Gates never got back his reputation after the anti trust issues with Microsoft. Also, Google do not want to find themselves permanently in court battles”.

In the competition space, Google faces an anti trust review with the potential tie-up with Yahoo. “Google already has 59.8% of the US Search Market (according to comScore) and if this deal is interpreted and defined by the DOJ (US Department of Justice) as Online Advertising in the US Search Market — then this will be bad news for Google and Yahoo. Surely this deal will be seen as an anti-competitive move,” Warner said.

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