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Google offers up a guide to antitrust hearing

The company has a list of things folks should keep in mind when they hear some of the charges leveled against Google today.

As Google executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt prepares for a hearing later today with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, the search company is offering up a guide for folks to peruse when they hear the charges leveled against it.

The guide, which includes seven items, tells readers what they will hear, and then explains to them what they should "remember" after hearing it. For example, Google says that when folks hear that it "is a gateway to the Web and controls what people see," the search firm wants them to remember that "using Google is a choice," adding that "AOL and MySpace were called 'gatekeepers' once too."

In addition, Google responded to claims that it "favors its own content," saying that the company "delivers the best answers to users, and that is the only consideration." And when charged with changing its search algorithm to hurt certain Web sites, Google says that it "makes more than 500 changes to our search algorithms every year, and each change is designed to improve the quality of our search results for consumers."

That idea of helping consumers is something that is expected to play a crucial role in Schmidt's testimony later today.

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"We believe that the FTC's inquiry will reveal an enthusiastic company filled with people who believe we have only just scratched the surface of what's possible," Schmidt will reportedly say before the Senate subcommittee in his prepared testimony, according to Politico, which has obtained an excerpt. "That passion to do better will not only serve our users well, it will serve our nation well, by helping create the new jobs and economic growth that America needs."

Schmidt will face the slings and arrows of lawmakers who aren't so convinced that Google's dominance in search is good for consumers or competitors. But Google already has an answer for that. In its guide, the company says that people should remember the "Internet is the ultimate level playing field" when they hear that "Google deters other companies from innovating." What's more, Google argues, its success "hasn't stopped the explosion of mobile apps as a new way for people to consume information."

Google is also prepared to face complaints that it's hurting small businesses. In the guide, it said that such claims are simply "not true," and it "continually" considers small businesses when it makes changes to its search algorithms.

One thing Google didn't mention in its guide was privacy. However, the company's blog post was focused on competition, which might have been the reason for excluding that topic. Even so, over the last several years, the search firm has been targeted by organizations that say it has violated user privacy and should be held accountable for that.

Consumer Watchdog, an organization that has repeatedly taken aim at Google for allegedly violating user privacy, is betting that topic will come up today. And to drive its point home that Web privacy should be discussed, the organization is planning to have mimes at the Dirksen Senate Office Building where Schmidt will testify wearing white track suits with "Google Track Team" inscribed on the front.

Google's antitrust hearing is scheduled to start at about 11 a.m. PT. CNET's Greg Sandoval will be there to report on what happens.