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Country mice oppose Yahoogle

'A threat to the dusty back roads of the information superhighway'

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Even rural America takes issue with this Yahoogle idea.

Today, six organizations representing "the dusty back road of the information superhighway" shot a letter to John Conyers and Patrick Leahy - heads of the US House and Senate judiciary committees - calling for public hearings on a potential search tie-up between the world's largest search engines.

"We write to request that your respective Committees hold prompt hearings on the proposed partnership between Google and Yahoo! which threatens to create a monopolistic concentration of power in the market for online search and related advertising," reads the letter, signed by everyone from American Corn Growers Association and National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association to the League of Rural Voters. "This issue is of immense importance to rural communities that we represent."

Larry Miller, a Corn Growers Association board member, tells The Reg that country folk use search engines too. "Even though we're on the dusty back road of the information superhighway, internet search is still critical to our small businesses, our education systems, and our farmers and ranchers," he says.

In an effort to fight off that mega merger bid from Microsoft, Yahoo! leaked word of a possible Google pact back in April, and the two companies actually tested Yahoo! search pages populated with Google ads.

Miller's Corn Growers and the League of Rural voters have already complained about the relationship with a letter to the US Justice Department, and now they've turned to Congress.

As it is, Miller says, farmers have access to a limited number of suppliers - and a limited number of buyers. The ultimate worry is that a Yahoogle pact shrink opportunities still further.

"A large monopolist can discriminate against small and middle-sized businesses from rural communities in favor of larger, more moneyed firms, driving up online advertising prices for everything from feedstock to equipment and shutting out hundreds of small businesses who need an open platform on which to market their products," the letter to Conyers and Leahy continues.

Or as Miller puts it: "If there are fewer competitors in the search market, how easy will it be for corporate money to buy what you see when you search?" ®

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