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Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Consumer Watchdog Urges Regulators to Block Google's Deal to Buy Waze

Consumer Watchdog today called on federal regulators to block Google's proposed $1 billion acquisition of Waze, developers of a mobile mapping application, on antitrust grounds.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group made the case against the deal in letters to both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Both agencies have the authority to scrutinize acquisitions for antitrust concerns.

"Google already dominates the online mapping business with Google Maps. The Internet giant was able to muscle its way to dominance by unfairly favoring its own service ahead of such competitors as Mapquest in its online search results," wrote John M. Simpson Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director. "Now with the proposed Waze acquisition the Internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space. Moreover, it will allow Google access to even more data about online activity in a way that will increase its dominant position on the Internet."

Consumer Watchdog noted that Waze CEO Noam Bardin, publicly described Google as his only competitor at last May's All Things Digital conference. He said, "What search is for the Web, maps are for mobile?We feel that we're the only reasonable competition to [Google] in this market of creating maps that are really geared for mobile, for real-time, for consumers - for the new world that we're moving into."

"You should take Bardin at his word," wrote Simpson. "Approval of the Waze deal can only allow Google to remove any meaningful competition from the market. It will hurt consumers and hinder technological innovation. If the acquisition comes before the you, I urge you to reject it in the strongest possible terms."

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