Google has been hit with a record fine over alleged “illegal conduct” in the European Union. The EU fined Alphabet Inc.’s popular search engine 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) over allegations of anti-competitive practices. The BBC reports Google is accused of promoting its own shopping service over rival online retailers in search results.
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s Competition Commissioner, said in a statement.
“It has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merits and to innovate, and most importantly it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation.”
The EU says Google has 90 days to “stop its illegal conduct” and give equal treatment to other price-comparison sites. The U.S.-based company has up to 60 days to respond with plans for fixing the alleged issue, or face additional fines of up to 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s daily revenue — or $14 million.
“When you shop online, you want to find the products you’re looking for quickly and easily,” Google’s lawyer Kent Walker said in a statement. “And advertisers want to promote those same products. That’s why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both. We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago.”
According to Bloomberg, Google began promoting its own comparison-shopping service in 2008 with prominent placement when users search for items. The EU began its probe two years later, in 2010.
The EU said other price comparison sites typically appear on the fourth page of search results, where users are less likely to find them as 95 percent of clicks come on the first page of search results.
There’s a “wag the dog” component in a bill that awaits Gov. Chris Christie’s signature after passing the state Senate. The legislation has to do with — dogs. More specifically, it involves service animals.
In political circles, “wag the dog,” means to create a distraction to take citizen and media attention away from a scandal that reflects poorly on an officeholder. Soon after release of Barry Levinson’s 1997 movie of the same name that popularized the idiom, President Bill Clinton decided to fire missiles at al-Qaida targets in Afghanistan and the Sudan — at the same time as Monica Lewinsky was testifying before a grand jury. Many observers called it a prime, real-life example of “wag the dog.”
For a more recent example, look at how and when President Donald Trump issues his most controversial stop-the-presses “tweets.”
What does this have to do with New Jersey legislation to protect the rights of people with service animals? Just this: There has been to much focus on the punitive aspects of the bill, as in fines, when the more important part addresses a need for less ignorance about laws and policies governing these animals.
“Charlie’s Law,” as it has been dubbed, emerged after Cherry Hill High School East prevented 16-year-old Ben Shore, who is on the autism spectrum, from bringing his goldendoodle Charlie with him to class. In a little bit of Statehouse theater, Assembly co-sponsor Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) allowed Charlie to press the “yes” button when the legislation unanimously passed the Assembly in January. This past Monday’s 38-0 approval in the Senate, which sends “Charlie’s Law” to the governor, is a credit to Shore, his persistence, and his willingness to know his rights under state and federal law. That’s a lot more than Cherry Hill school district officials knew when they enacted a boneheaded policy that clearly conflicts with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The local policy, since reversed, denied Charlie admittance because the dog was not provided by a recognized agency, and was trained at home to respond to Shore’s panic attacks. Such discrimination against “home-schooled” service animals is strictly illegal under the ADA.
The bill allows someone like Shore to call police when gatekeepers of public accommodations let Ben come in, but insist that Charlie stays out. Police can issue summonses with fines starting at $250 for the first infraction, $500 for the second, and $1,000 for each subsequent violation. The money is supposed to go toward educational programs about the rights of people with service animals. By all means, Gov. Chris Christie should sign the bill. It would be a genuine feel-good moment if Shore and Charlie were with him at a public ceremony. But, as we noted this winter, police have higher-priority things to do than intervene in disputes over whether or not a dog can be admitted to a restaurant. We don’t expect these fines to add up to much, but the need for greater awareness is critical. What kind of compliance program can the state Attorney General’s Office establish on fine revenue that may be assessed only a few times each year? An ineffective one. So, back to “wag the dog.” Fines make good headlines, but lawmakers and the administration should commit to funding sufficiently an effort such that every government building security guard, every ticket-taker at a theater, and every bluenose who sniffs “No dogs allowed!” will know better.
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- ^ “wag the dog (www.nj.com)
- ^ it involves service animals. (www.nj.com)
- ^ Barry Levinson’s 1997 movie of the same name (www.hollywoodreporter.com)
- ^ legislation to protect the rights of people with service animals? (www.njleg.state.nj.us)
- ^ allowed Charlie to press the “yes” button (www.nj.com)
- ^ as we noted this winter (www.nj.com)
- ^ South Jersey Times (nj.com)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A Colorado mom reached out to Denver-based KMGH after a stressful encounter with TSA at Denver International Airport. Britney Shawstad said she wants other moms to be aware of what happened to her. The 28-year old mom from Englewood, Colorado said on May 17, she was taking her 3-month old son, Harrison, home to meet her family.
I told the security officers that I was carrying breast milk, she said. They told me to take it out and put it in its own bin, so I did.
Shawstad said one of the officers told her it set off an alarm when he tested it for explosives.
I politely asked him to test it again, she said. It didn t pass. The frustrated mom said she then asked if they could transfer the milk into a different container for another test, and that the agent told her, the only option was to dump it. She said she didn t argue, because she didn t want to get pulled into a back room and get patted down.
A few minutes later, she was overcome with emotion.
I just started crying, she said, because I really didn t know what to do that was my son s food. Shawstad said she had packed enough milk to keep Harrison fed while they were traveling. She said she made the personal decision to use breast milk when Harrison was born.
It s good for infants she said. They get antibodies from it.
The mom said she told her dad what happened and that he called TSA. TSA apologized.
A spokeswoman told KMGH via email that While TSA s top priority is to ensure travelers arrive to their destinations safely, we also strive to provide the highest level of customer service at our checkpoints. Officers are trained to screen breast milk, and medically necessary liquids, which includes procedures to resolve alarms. In this particular case, standard checkpoint procedures were not followed to resolve the alarm. We ve reached out to the passenger to apologize for any inconvenience caused during the screening process and scheduled a briefing for all DEN TSA officers on screening oversized liquids, including breast milk.
TSA officers initially screen medically exempt liquids, gels and aerosols using X-ray screening machines. If there is an alarm, officers will then proceed with screening using a liquid container screening technology that does not necessarily require opening containers. Passengers who do not want their containers opened must inform the officer. The passenger will then be subject to additional screening that may involve a pat-down and additional screening of their remaining accessible property. To learn more about TSA s policy regarding breast milk, click on this link: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children
Shawstad said the apology doesn t resolve anything. She said it should never have reached that point.
I had traveled once before with breast milk and it wasn t an issue, she said. The last time, it was.
Shawstad said the experience was overwhelming.
It makes it hard to travel and it makes me stressed to think about traveling, she said. The 28-year old mom said she wants other moms to know what the protocol is.
If you re traveling with breast milk, follow the rules, she said. And the rules are that you are allowed to bring breast milk for your child. You are also allowed to bring juice. Shawstad said if a TSA officer tells you otherwise, ask to talk to a manager.